Who hasn’t done a squat in their lifetime? From the time we are kids we are squatting. Bringing our bum down to our heels to play or to pick something up. Even in some Asian countries they sit in a deep squatted position to eat food or to converse. Modern day life is becoming more and more sedentary. How many squats do you do on a daily basis to pick something off the floor, to tie your shoes? Most of us do the majority of our squatting in an exercise class nowadays.
The Benefits of Squatting:
· Strengthens the hips in particular the gluteal muscles.
· Maintains mobility at the hips.
· Maintains length in the calf muscles and mobility around the ankles.
· Strengthens the muscles in the front of the thigh the hip flexors and the quadriceps.
· Helps mobilise the knees.
· Helps to strengthen the core and maintain length in the extensor muscles in the spine and mobility in the pelvis.
Try a deep Squat:
Bring your bum right down to your heels!
· Can you get your bum down onto your heels? How far can you go?
· Do your heels lift? Can you go further when you are on your tip toes?
· Do your feet turn outwards?
· Does it feel easy? If not where do you feel the restrictions?
This is a great exercise to practice to see what areas you need to work on. If your heels are lifting you need to improve your calf length and ankle mobility. If your heels stay on the floor but you can’t get your bum down further it could be your hips or your knees that you need to work on.
Alignment Points when Squatting:
Alignment is so important so that you are kind to your joints and to load your body in the most favourable positions.
· Feet flat on the floor hip distance apart with equal weight between legs and equal weight between the front and the back of the foot. Try not to grip with the toes and aim to keep the arches of your feet off the floor.
· Knees stay over ankles and feet stay facing straight ahead.
· Bring the bum backwards as if going to sit back onto a chair so the movement is a flexion/extension movement at the hips and NOT coming from the lower back.
· Tuck the tailbone under slightly so that the pelvis is in a slight posterior pelvic tilt and this will help the gluts to engage more.
· Try to keep the chest up and open so you are not collapsing through the upper body.
· Remember to breathe when practising your squats, inhale to lower and exhale to come back up tall into standing.
Practice Sit to Stands:
This is such a simple but fantastic exercise to practice and a great one to do if you are sitting at your desk for too long. Simply stand up tall at your desk and slowly sit back down without using your hands. Apply all of the points from above and do the exercise really slowly working on control of the movement. See how many you can do before you get tired or lose your technique.
Practice Wall Sits:
Slide down a wall so hips and knees at a 90 degree angle and knees over ankles. How long can you hold the wall sit for? Keep your back straight up against the wall. Make sure the feet are firm on the floor and facing straight ahead. This is a great way to build strength in the legs for perfecting your squat technique.
Try to incorporate some squats back into your daily life. In gym classes or Yoga/Pilates classes there are so many different squat variations. The goddess pose and the deep squats, different arm positions and different feet positions all to challenge the movement more.
As Joseph Pilates famously stated “Be in control of your body and not at its mercy”, the benefits of doing squats to maintain mobility and strength in your pelvis, hips, knees and ankles must not be underestimated.
Here at Head 2 Toe Chiropractic & Physiotherapy we provide movement assessments and classes in Pilates and Yoga as well as treatments to help you to be in control of your body, to help you to move past the pain and get back to life. Contact us on 021-2011159 to book your appointment today.