Are you ready? This basic move (when done correctly) is the most transformative for your overall health, body strength, pelvic floor function and even digestion. Studies also show that repeating this position throughout life leads to greater vitality as we age. Allow me to explain.
The Deep Squat.
From a historical prospective, the squat has been around a long time. The squat as a natural primal movement pattern is all around us. Look no further than babies who naturally squat in almost perfect position.
Many of the world’s healthiest people live in places deemed “Blue Zones” – places where there are the greatest proportion of centenarians ( people who live beyond the age of 100 years). For example, Okinawa, Japan is a Blue Zone. Here people eat from low tables with no chairs. They consequently squat up and down from the floor over a dozen times each day, building strength, bone density and preventing injuries from falls. Studies show a strong correlation between a strong lower body and longevity.
The trouble in the Western World where we tend to chair-sit daily for long periods of time is we’ve lost the ability to squat properly. We sit at work, we sit on toilets, we sit in the car and we sit on the couch. Our butt rarely (if ever) gets below 90 degrees! And PS, wearing high heel shoes is bad news for your postural alignment and greatly hinders your functional squat ability (so sad, I know). Our muscles have become so tight and weak that we look like the below image on the right. Pelvis tucked under, heels lifted and spine rounded.
Get back to your 2-year-old self ( you used to do squats beautifully!) and aim to look like the image on the left above. Straight and untucked lumbar back, crease of hips below knees, knees over toes, weight on heels and feet at least shoulder width apart.
Don’t attack the exercise right away. Getting to this position will take some stretching and prep work. Biomechanist Katy Bowman has written an incredible step-by-step exercise guide on how to reclaim your squat.
Here are some of the deep squat benefits:
- Stronger lower body
- More functional/less tense pelvic floor
- Squats have long been criticized for being destructive to your knees, but research shows that when done properly, squats actually improve knee stability and strengthen connective tissue
- Better waste elimination for bowel movements as colon is more open
- More power ( you can jump higher!)
- Increased bone density
- Easier birth for pregnant women (lying on your back during delivery is not helping get that baby out!)
- Squats also help you to burn more fat, as one of the most time-efficient ways to burn more calories continually is by developing more muscle
For the vast majority of the squatting world, squatting is a way to pick stuff off the floor (this is what they meant when said “lift from your knees” and don’t throw your back out), deliver a baby, wait for the bus, go to the bathroom, or chill out.
So, let’s drop it like a squat my friends! It’s time.