This week we want to explore a posture that our little people (little kids) have no trouble doing, squatting.
This activity or posture was very popular thousands of years ago and is still used in many Asian and Indonesian cultures. There is even a movement to use this position when using the bathroom, maybe you saw the Sharktank episode about the Squatty Potty? This device is supposed to help you eliminate better. . . www.squattypotty.com.
Anyway, why are we discussing that here? Well, we look at all types of postures in this blog to explore ways to improve our health and productivity and squatting may be one of those to consider.
Why don’t we squat more? Well history is to blame along with all of the shoes we have to wear.
Research has shown that as the “civilized” society moved through areas of the world where squatting was a natural way to rest, relax and eat some of these cultures where “educated” on the use of chairs and sitting because this was thought to be a more “civilized” way of resting. And people just didn’t like the way squatters look. So it became a lost beneficial posture. This is unfortunate because it is a natural posture. When you watch a young child you can see they naturally go into a squat when looking at something or playing. Should this tell us something about this posture? I believe it does.
It is a very beneficial exercise, especially the deep squats. Apparently the Gluteus Maximus (you back side) gets a great workout but only when you go past the ½ way mark in the squat. And that is the essence of the squat, to go all the way down.
There are two identified squat postures:
- Full Squat
- Western Squat
The Full Squat is the posture that has been around for thousands of years.
The Western Squat is a modified version due primarily to our lack of squatting and the shoes and fashions that we wear. In some cases people aren’t able to do the Full Squat because their knees, hips and ankles are not flexible enough, anymore. But with practice, this can change.
So what are the benefits to squatting? Here are a few:
A proper squat, with the heels on the floor, requires good flexibility at the ankle. Getting to and maintaining a full squat is a great way to improve ankle mobility and restore a full range of motion.
Back Pain Relief
Excessive curvature of the lower back is a problem for many people. This can be caused by the pelvis being pulled in the front by tight hip flexor muscles. When in a full squat position the pelvis is rotated backwards. This elongates the spine. All of this then allows the tight or shortened muscles to stretch in the lower back.
When your hip muscles are week you will often turn your legs inward and rotate them for activities like going down the stairs. Doing this puts the knee at a bad angle and can lead to injuries. When performing a full squat the hips are moved in the opposite direction. The squatting strengthens these muscles groups so performing the simple act of walking on stairs becomes easier while giving you better control of the entire leg.
The glute is one of the largest muscles in the body and is key to walking, running and lifting. As we mentioned earlier studies have shown that to strengthen this muscle group you must squat past the ½ way mark. So getting into and out of a full squat does wonders for the backside muscles.
When you strengthen all of these areas above you improve both the static posture positions (where you are in a single position for long periods of time) and dynamic posture positions (when you are moving). Your alignment will be better and this can lead to less stress on your overall body and less chance of injury.
So the bottom line is that by squatting you can reverse the effects of some bad habits that our living in the modern “civilized” society has caused.
So now, get up and get into a squat to see how well you do. Or if you’re embarrassed put this on your list of todos when you get home.