I started doing squats a couple of weeks ago, and I'm having trouble maintaining balance near the bottom of my squat (when I'm trying to go below parallel). Let me describe the situation.
Squat stance: I keep my legs shoulder with apart. My heels line up with my shoulders, and I point my feet about 15 degrees outward. I squat down so I am in a "third world squat" stance and my knees are in line with my feet. I stand back up and that is my starting squat stance.
When I squat, I place the bar on my traps, take a deep breath, and bend at the knees. Once I reach a sufficient bend in the knees (meaning not beyond my toes), I try to do the do the rest of the squat by bending at the hips--like I am squatting in to a chair. Anyways, as I get close to parallel, I start experiencing some problems with my balance/form--like I am tipping backwards. The only way I can compensate is to allow my knees to travel beyond my toes. I know that a little about dos/donts of squatting, and I know that it is generally an indication of poor form if I allow my knees to travel beyond my toes, but it's the only way I can get below parallel. After that, I push back out of the hole and the squat is complete.
So my question is pretty clear: why am I falling back when I am squatting? And: is knee travel beyond my toes a necessarily a bad thing?