Learn the Squat Creep Exercise For Stronger Knees and Ankles

By the time you’re finished with this tutorial, you’ll be a creepy squatter, errr… a squatting creep… actually you’ll move just like a duck. Well, no matter how you say it – it doesn’t sound good, but this is a really great movement exercise. Honest!

Take a look at the Squat Creep (aka “Duck Walk”)…

Squat Creep Demonstration

Simple, right? Easier said than done, as there are some subtle intricacies that will separate the ducks from the loons – or at least the duck walkers from the squat creepers. So, turn up your speakers, push your chair back. Yes, you. I don’t care if you’re in Starbucks or Panera! Get in a ball of foot squat and learn this great biomechanical exercise…

Squat Creep Tutorial

The Squat Creep biomechanical exercise is useful for several things:

  • building strong ankles and knees by putting stress on the joint capsules
  • building strong muscles and connective tissues around these joints
  • shaving away tension in and around your joints and connective tissues
  • healing scar tissue in your calf muscles
  • developing better hip mobility
  • and pretending to be a quacking fowl

You can integrate the squat creep into your training program in many ways, but I like to include it in my daily personal practice for the purpose of “cleaning the slate.” What I usually do is perform my full joint mobility session a la Intu-Flow, then follow-up with some biomechanical exercises (such as the squat creep) from TACGYM. Finally, if deeper tension release is needed, I’ll perform some Prasara Yoga (usually separately from my Intu-flow and Bodyflow session).

Generally, performing 3-5 repetitions is adequate for a good tension release in the joint capsules, but you can perform as many as are necessary to relieve a full muscular release, too. How many repetitions you need to perform will be specific to your needs, but to give you some perspective, I generally need around 10-15 reps for a full release.

You can also use this movement specifically for strength development of the knee and ankle. Performing it as part of a workout is certainly possible, and you can implement it with any training protocol or set/rep scheme you’d like. You can also increase the challenge by adding additional resistance (ie wearing a weight vest, or holding a weight either at chest level or extended overhead).

BodyFlow was a pre-cursor program to Prasara Yoga, and many of the movements in BodyFlow can and do serve as transitional pieces in a Prasara routine. So, if you’re looking to explore Prasara in the future, BodyFlow would be a great stepping stone to the more advanced movement practice.

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CST, CST-KS, NSCA-CPT
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32 Responses

  1. Great vid on the squat creep, John! I discovered CST after IntuFlow came out. So I never experienced bodyflow and warrior wellness vids. My first CST purchases were IntuFlow and Prasara vids. You’ve inspired me to pick up Body Flow DVD (I have the book in storage currently) but wanted to ask a a couple of questions first.

    – are the biomechanical exercises very helpful if one is already doing IF?
    – what’s the difference between Warrior Wellness and Bodyflow DVDs? Thanks!!

    • Intu-Flow actually does contain a selection of biomechanical exercises – at the end of each program (spinal rocks, quad squats, etc.). So yes, biomechanical exercises are absolutely helpful in conjunction with Intu-Flow. BodyFlow just provides a lot more movements to add to your collection.

      Warrior Wellness was a joint mobility program that preceded and was replaced by Intu-Flow (which is the updated version of CST’s joint mobility system). The material in Intu-Flow completely covers what was available in Warrior Wellness (there are a couple of exercises in WW that do not appear in Intu-Flow, but 99% of it is still there).

      BodyFlow eventually evolved into Prasara Yoga, but rather than replacing BodyFlow, Prasara is a more refined method. There’s still a lot of value to be had from the biomechanical exercises in the original BodyFlow program, and I still use them regularly today.

    • Thanks John! That makes it much clearer for me. May I ask one more question please? I’m wondering about the differences between Flowfit II and BodyFlow. I’d really like to get into more biomechanical exercises and wondering which DVD would serve me more? I’ve never seen either one. Thanks again!

      • Both are good programs, though I’ve spent a lot more time with BodyFlow, which covers a lot more material. FlowFit 2 is a specific workout involving ground engagement exercises performed in a circuit format. It’s a good program because the workout includes movements from all 6 Degrees of Freedom (just like FlowFit 1), and experiencing this in your training is certainly valuable. If I were to recommend one or the other – definitely BodyFlow, hands down.

        • John – I will go with BodyFlow. Altho I knew FF2 mentions ‘Ground Engagement’, some of the movements on the promo vid look like BME’s. This is what confused me or at least made me wish to clarify things. I think I’m not ready for FF2 yet from your description but down the road. Thanks again!! And keep the vids coming, Bro. I’ve watched all of them and they are really great! Wish I was still in Boston area so I could come train with you….

  2. Thanks for the Vids John. Again useful material from Physical Living for my “Tutorial Vids” Section in the bookmarks. :-)

    @ Priyam
    Yes – Intu Flow, Body Flow and Prasara is all good stuff. I have the Prasara, Bodyflow and Intu Flow DVDs and the books.
    I never managed to be consistent in training if it was boring and too simple. No I am not lazy and without discipline. My CNS just feels offended.

    When my CST Instructor works with me on Prasara Pigeon Pose or some Body Flow movement it is really hard work and I feel the blind spots (SMA), shortened muscles, tight connective tissue, lack of joint mobility in some areas. It hurts but I learn a ton in one hour! What is ok, what is a problem area ? And my CNS is happy. Even if it hurts it is fun. :-)

    Everybody is different but in my experience Body Flow is really helpful in addition to Intu Flow. And I am only a beginner with Body Flow. I can’t cheat in Prasara or Body Flow like I can in Intu Flow.
    You can do the Intu Flow stuff and feel fine and still have tight muscles or connective tissue/fascia adhesions. But in doing Body Flow or Prasara the truth slaps you in the face and it hurts.I can do Intu Flow backbending with no problems but that doesn’t mean I have no tight abs and quads. When I do the bridge I can’t do it well because my tight quads and abs restrict my movement. So I do both, one for feeling good (successful) and one for feeling uhm…not so good (my bridge sucks).
    If you like Dancing or Gymnastics or Tai Chi or Systema or Wu Shu you will like Body Flow.

  3. Priyam,
    you are welcome. :-)

    No, I don’t own Flow Fit II. I only watched the short Video on you tube
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdOjvwLOsDk
    Compared to the Body Flow DVD I would say: one should be proficient in Body Flow Basic BMEs and Flow Fit 1 before tackling FF 2.

    I believe that for now practicing Body Flow Basic BMEs, Flow Fit I and Prasara is more than enough for my body.
    Is A better for you than B? That depends on your goals and your skill and fitness level but my gut feeling (and training experience) says: master the basics before doing the advanced stuff. In evolution mankind evolved from some ape-like animal to homo sapiens. In BME we evolve from a walking duck to a flying sambo master. ;-)

    • Thanks, Andrea. What you say makes a lot of sense to me. BodyFlow it is!! Appreciate you helping me clarify this….

  4. Priyam,

    you are welcome. :-)
    Have fun with the DVDs.

  5. John, many thanks for taking the time to put this instructional video together. My copy of Bodyflow was on VHS and was eventually eaten before I could really learn the material (and the live seminar format on VHS made it harder to locate the material you wanted and review it). So you are doing us “old school/old media” folks a major favor with stuff like this. Not to mention I might be inspired to get Bodyflow on DVD.(I am assuming that the material was not reshot/refilmed for the DVD version.)

    • My pleasure, James. I never viewed BodyFlow on VHS, but the DVD version sounds like it’s the same based on your description.

  6. Hello John
    I just stumbled onto your site and I am very interested in strengthening my knees and ankles. I have been doing kettlebells for about 7 months and love them. I just purchased Scott’s Kettlebell Spetsnaz workout (despite the crazy marketing!)
    So I tried this movement and knees were crying. So I am assuming that there is some flexibility issues. Where would you recommend to start. In the workouts for the Tacfit program Scott has a move called the twisted lunge and this on also kills my knees. I long time ago I snapped my MCL in my left knee and I never really got it back to where it once was and both knees have always had issues.
    Any advice?
    Thanks
    Heather

    • Hi Heather,

      It’s hard to say, since you have a history with knee issues. If it’s just a mobility or flexibility issue, then a simply mobility and/or Prasara yoga practice should be enough to work out the discomfort. If there’s a medical problem, then you may need more specific attention from a doctor or physical therapist. Usually, the only way to know is to actually visit your doctor for a diagnosis and get specific exercise clearance and recommendations.

      If I were in your shoes, what I would try is performing knee range of motion exercises several times a day (if you can do so without pain). Use the drills in this program to assess your ROM (2nd to last video):

      http://physicalliving.com/resources/circular-strength-training/mobility/

      If you can achieve the fully locked, and fully flexed positions in both knees without pain, then the next logical step is to strengthen that range of motion under light loading (your bodyweight during exercises such as the squat creep).

      It can take weeks or months to work out simple ROM issues, so be patient.

      • Thanks John

        I have had my knees x-rayed but they just found arthritis (I am only 37 and have had knee issues forever). I was told it was patellafemoral and I am hyperflexive. I can achieve fully locked but with a fair bit of “noise”, but it’s the fully flexed with weight that causes the most pain. Would you recommend buying the intu-flow or is most of it available for free on the web?
        I tried the ROM video you suggested and I seem to be able to do the movement without issue so I will continue with them!
        Thanks for listening
        Heather

        • Yes, I do recommend you invest in the full intu-flow program. The first of four programs is available for free – the beginner program. The very nature of intu-flow lies in movement sophistication, and you’ll need the more advanced levels of this to keep making progress.

  7. Heather,
    what is an MCL? It sounds like a real issue. I know ACL and PCL, but MCL? Never heard that. I am German so maybe a bit dumb in this regard.

    Some ideas in addition to John’s good advice:

    First: Squats and Body Flow exercises are great rehab but you have to start where you are. Maybe simple Air Squats first. As John said you need a diagnosis and a good sports physiotherapist to know what you can do right now and what not. Too little load is bad for knees and too much load is bad for knees. Discomfort is ok, pain not (unless a PT stands behind you and says it is ok.) Find the “magic zone” as physiotherapist Doug Kelsey says. Joints and ligaments need time to adapt. More time than muscles.
    Interesting fact I learned from smart PTs: knee cartilage works actually better under load than without. Yup! :-)

    Yes, Tacfit marketing is a bit special but I have lots of books and DVDs from Coach Sonnon and the stuff is all high quality and useful.

    PT and S&C Coach Kelly Starrett had a nice seminar about knee rehab:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOH6b0jJ2bQ&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a72IhKe_2cs&feature=related

    My first commandment in training: If you are not assessing you are guessing. Which means: Before doing anything I would get comprehensive diagnostics.

    • Hello Andrea

      Your MCL actually stops your knee from swinging from side to side and it is apparently not often torn. I feel very lucky… I have been trying air squats and I can only go down a little on my right although much lower on my left (left had the operation). My left does not like to be bent completely. They are messed up and I need to take steps to get them right. Loved the video’s thanks so much. I have been doing wall squats and even those are not comfortable. Last time I had my knees x-rayed they just found some arthritis. I have been trying to figure out how to fix the problem myself but I may have to break down and find an expert.

      Thanks for your input.
      Heather

  8. Hi Heather,

    arthritis is one examples of “The pitiful state of medical ignorance” as Dr. Mike Eades says. I have no arthritis in my knees but the cartilage is a bit weak in the retropatellar area (behind the knee cap). Patellofemoral syndrome can be rehabilitated. Your cartilage can actually get better! 80 % of Doctors and physiotherapists don’t know this. Health care system? Don’t get me started!

    I am not too impressed by science because I know how it works. I always told my docs that the so called “chronic deseases” are not a disease but failure of self regulation in your body. This is the basic premise of Functional Medicine. Even if they believed me they shrugged their shoulders. They were not interested because they only had drugs and surgery as tools. And if you only have a hammer as a tool every problem looks like a nail.

    But here’s the good news: The docs slowly change their mind, even in Germany. Surprise…. Prof. Dr. Henning Madry, Arthritis Research, Saarland Medical School, Germany, says: Osteoarthritis is no wear and tear but a chronic disease like asthma and diabetes. Cartilage is damaged by accidents or sports injuries but very often it is induced by internal processes which are not understood. Cartilage gets weak and finally destroyed.This has nothing to do with aging per se. Many young people have OA today and many old people have no OA says Prof. Madry.

    Hey – that’s what I said for years! But I am not an MD – only a person with a brain.

    Why are the causes of symptoms like OA not understood? Because nobody in the medical establishment looked for them. Big Pharma has no interest in research about the causes and definitively not in prevention or healing. Healthy people who are not drug junkies? Terrible for Big Pharma!
    Dr. Ron Rosedale, MD, says: “If you are going to treat a disease you need to get to the root of the disease….But the problem is that we don’t know what the root is, or we haven’t. (…) the problem is that medicine really isn’t a science, it is a business.”

    Nothing in the human body “just wears out”. Your pancreas doesn’t ” just wear out”. Stop eating tons of crap! Your liver doesn’t “just wear out”. Your eyes don’t “just wear out” – stop misusing and poisoning them. Read optometrist Jacob Liberman, PhD., or Leo Angart on why eyes get bad, you’ll be surprised. Liberman and Angart are seniors and don’t need the glasses they had as young men. Liberman’s deconstruction of “medical idiocy” in ophtalmology is great.

    In the same way you can deconstruct Conventional Wisdom about arthritis. The reason for all degeneration is:
    the body is overloaded with physiological and /or psychological stress. Bad nutrition
    wrong biomechanics
    sedentary lifestyle (cartilage needs movement or they literally starve to death
    tight muscles
    too much stress (cortisol damages connective tissue)
    too much load withoud proper icremental training
    accidents (acute trauma) like in football and other sports. Patrick Swayze ruined his knee joints as a healthy young man in a football game (unfair attack from an opponent).
    Nobody can avoid all this unhealthy stressors all the time. So nobody can be in perfect health. But we can get closer than we are today.
    Rant over. :-)

    So use your knees (they hate sedentary lifestyle) but do it smart. Look for a good PT. Movement is healthy? No. Efficient, well coordinated movement is healthy.
    I don’t know what is the cause for your problems. It can be bad biomechanics – the correct them. It can be an autoimmune issue. Then change your nutrition. It can be all of the above mentioned problems or just one or two of them.

    One well informed PT is Doug Kelsey, Austin, Texas. He helped a lot of athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Here are some good posts from his blog:
    http://sportscenteraustin.blogs.com/the_view/2008/04/chapter-12-the.html
    http://sportscenteraustin.blogs.com/the_view/2009/01/joint-protective-exercise.html
    http://sportscenteraustin.blogs.com/the_view/2003/11/uncle_arthur.html

    Arthritis as autoimmune disease: Dr. Art Ayers
    http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/2010/02/arthritis-autoimmunity-and-arginine.html
    Take Glucosamine & Chondroitin. It helps. Art Ayers explains why.

    If you have an autoimmune issue, don’t eat stuff that can trigger Leaky Gut and autoimmune issues: No grains, no sugar, no legumes (nasty antinutritients), no nightshades (Peppers, Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants).

    The best book for folks with so called “chronic diseases” (arthritis, diabetes, eczema etc): Robb Wolf: The Paleo Solution.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0982565844/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=0J4GKTKRBZXCKRZJ14H2&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938811&pf_rd_i=507846

    You get tons of information about nutrition & disease from Robb’s podcasts. They are great for anybody with health problems:
    http://robbwolf.com/category/podcasts/

    Good luck. :-)

    • Thanks for your comment, Andrea.

    • Hello Andrea
      I wanted to get a chance to read through all the information that you linked to before I responded. It is funny that you should mention leaky gut and inflammation as I have discovered 3 years ago that my the reason my health had gone out the window was that I was lactose intolerant and gluten intolerant. They can’t officially diagnose celiac because I would have to eat wheat for a month or two and then I would have to have an scope to look for damage. Currently, if my food gets wheat “crumbs” on it I am out of commission for a week and in excruciating pain. Auto-immune diseases run in my family, MS, RA, Hypothyroidism etc. Funny thing was that when my husband stopped eating wheat (to help me out) when he tried it again he couldn’t tolerate it and his IBS went away too. He unfortunately suffers from Anklysosing Spondyilitis so inflammation is a hot topic at our house. I am really hoping that Intu-flow will be a program that he can do. I think I am going to pick up the paleo book tomorrow and see how it goes.
      As for my knee, I really need to work on ROM and mobility, there is no underuse issue at the moment!
      Thanks for taking the time to give all your thoughts and the links. I appreciate it! I am a research scientist and I really find this stuff fascinating, but I do have to agree that our medical system has some serious issues with respect to what research gets funded and by whom!
      Thanks
      Heather

  9. You are welcome John. :-)

  10. Wow!!! Fantastic info, Andrea! Thanks so much!!

  11. Andrea – sorry to learn of your medical challenges. I want to recommend a really good book called ‘Dangerous Grains’ by James Braly. It will tell you far more about gluten sensitivities than the medical profession ever will.
    Grains are a fairly recent addition to the human diet and so I’m not surprised about your husband as many people have these sensitivities – even if not full Celiac’s. Generally, the medical allopathic system doesn’t have much to offer unless the diagnosis is Celiac’s; even then it is not very profitable for them as diet is the main course of treatment usually. So i wouldn’t expect too much help there.

    BTW there is now a blood test for these sensitivities. The scope or biopsy is no longer necessary. Get this book and research online as you’ll be very well informed.

    For IBS, I would highly recommend checking out this man before jumping into a Paleo diet:

    http://www.colitis-crohns.com/

    All the above info resonates along the lines of what Heather mentioned as ‘deconstruct Conventional Wisdom’. It’s an important attitude to IMHO in order to optimally achieve health.

  12. Sorry – My previous post was for Heather. Apologies, Andrea! :-)

  13. Priyam,
    you are welcome.

    Heather,
    aha – Autoimmune issues.
    Read Robb Wolf and listen to his podcasts! Coach Sonnon told me he is in the same boat with Robb Wolf regarding nutrition. Robb actually was in bad health when he was 28 years and a “fit” kickboxer and powerlifter. He changed his diet and stressful lifestyle and today with 38 years he is not only fit but healthy with stellar lb tast numbers. No more IBS, pain, depression etc. And he helped thousands of people with autoimmune issues and other chronic dideases to get better with nutrition, smart training, enough sleep and stress reduction!

    Intu flow is great for mobility issues and your CNS gets smarter. I know from experience. But autoimmune issues are a different animal. Intu Flow won’t help with that. Avoiding unhealthy food will help.
    You had an x ray? Gimme a break! You need an MRI to really see what is going on.

    If you don’t have the time to check aout all my links – at least grab Robb’s book and check the podcasts out.

    RA, Hypothyreodism, MS have basically the same cause (leaky gut, insulin issues). They are just symptoms, not causes. The best info from a functional medicine perspective about thyreoid issues has Dr. Kharrazian.
    http://www.thyroidbook.com/
    http://lifechangingcarelubbock.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Funtional-Endocrinology-Philosophy_Kharrazian.pdf

    Big Pharma is dangerous – they mask symptoms instead of adressing the causes which leads to more problems down the road. Mark Sisson has a fantastic post at his website:
    Is Your Doctor Getting Cash Payouts from Big Pharma? (plus More Findings from the Drug Biz)
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/big-pharma-doctor-payouts/#comments

    Good luck for your rehab.

  14. Heather,

    Priyam is right about grains. When homo sapiens changed from hunter-gatherer-diet to grain based diets, health declined. Why should anyone eat something that is potentially dangerous and inferior to nutrition-dense foods like meat, fish, vegetables? Maybe because it is a drug and quite addictive like sugar or alcohol. No kidding!

    There are actually patients who could bring their Hashimoto’s disease into remission by avoiding gluten and grains.

    Dr. Thomas O’Brien, Dr. John Osborne and Dr. Rodney Ford are MDs who talk about the latest research and offer information about lab tests on their websites. Easy to google.

    The best summary and research review of “The dark side of wheat” I found is from Sayer Ji. He has the interesting thesis that the symptoms of Gluten or grain sensitivities are not a weakness of the individual (“pathology”) but the body’s desperate attempt to minimize the damage that the nasty antinutritients can do(self defense). Nature is smarter than humans. It may bbe like fever as reaction to infection.

    CD is only the tip of the iceberg. Non-celiac persons can also have gluten sensitivities and damage like autoimmune issues/organ/nerve damage. Gluten is actually glue. Would you eat wallpaper paste? Think about that. For very sensitive individuals eating grain fed animals can also be problematic. Grass-fed is better.
    http://www.patienthealthyself.info/Celiac_Disease_Article.html

    Findings from studies on wheat and schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease, leaky Gut, cancer, Sjögren’s Syndrome, skin disorders, diabetes, liver and thyroid problems:
    http://www.patienthealthyself.info/Gluten_Toxicity.html

    PS: Robb Wolf had celiac, colitis, ISB, aches and pain and his mother has a whole bunch of autoimmune problems. But as I said, without grains, sugar, legumes, dairy he is healthy and athletic -BJJ, gymnastics, weightlifting, crossfit football, Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat.

    PPS: Sorry for the typos in my last post.

    If I were in your situation, I would check my diet, sleep, stress level and movement patters.
    Yes, movement patterns. Most people are far from optimal. With your bad knees I would avoid every risk and look for a Functional Movement Test (Gray Cook) or even better: Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) . I did the FMS test some month ago. It is cheap and easy to do.
    http://www.functionalmovement.com/SITE/

    Gray Cook is an experienced PT who has smart corrective exercises. I bought his DVD “Secrets of the Hip and Knee”. Very helpful for understandin, preventing and rehabing knee problems.
    http://graycook.com/?page_id=45

    OK, now I have choked you with names and links to check out and your husband will hate me for killing his wife and Coach John will kill me for hijacking his blog. Uhm…I think it’s time to shut up. ;-)

  15. Debby Montenegro

    I damaged my the soft tissue around my knee a few weeks ago, while doing martial arts. Never thought a knee would give so much pain. I’m going to practice the squat creep daily to gain the strenght I require to train. I guess I’ve been taking my knees for granted. Thanks for sharing this great tip.

    Kind Regards Debby

  16. Kevin Capps

    John,

    Thanks for the squat creep tutorial. I am fascinated by this movement and all the variations. I have been searching for a guide to this motion after I recently saw Scott Sonnon execute it in a Youtube video. I understand that this is featured in the old Bodyflow DVD. Unfortunately, the Bodyflow package is no longer available. I hope you will be able to publish more on the Bodyflow sequences in the future. Thanks again for the good work and inspiration.

    • Bummer, I didn’t hear that BodyFlow has been condemned to the vault. I do know that the Tactical Gymnastics program is the latest evolution of the BodyFlow materials, with many new movements, and many of the originals, too (a lot more total material than BodyFlow covered, and in a much better package). Some of the movements like the squat creep have even been updated – into a slightly different “shin creep.”

      TACGYM is definitely worth checking out if you’re into this type of movement:

      TACGYM Review

      Interview with Scott Sonnon About TACGYM

      3 Complete TACGYM Workouts

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