Sitting is bad for us! We know that right? Spending prolonged time sitting in chairs is not how human beings were designed to rest and it can lead to weak Gluteal and Abdominal muscles, short hip flexors, a rounded spine, tight shoulders and compressed internal organs and sluggish digestion. Most of us suffer with some of the signs of “sitting disease” that stem from these adaptations in our bodies which can include pain and immobility, digestive and elimination problems, low energy and reduced lung capacity.
With so many people sitting or driving for a living and resting at home on soft sofas for relaxation, we have forgotten how to rest in our natural squatting position and for most of us actually lost the ability to get even close to it!
When you sit in a chair many critical muscles are switched off as the chair takes the weight of your body. When you rest into a deep squat and lower your hips to the ground the muscles and joints of your whole body distribute your weight and control your position.
Until the advent of the chair human beings used the deep squatting position for resting, working, and even going to the toilet. In some cultures, this is still the norm as it certainly is for other primates.
Learning to feel comfortable in a deep relaxed squat is an important movement pattern that will help you to switch the supportive muscles of your legs and spine back on, it will increase your ankle, knee, hip and spine mobility and strength. Squatting is great for your core and all of this will mean you will be able to maintain your mobility and balance, prevent injury and increase your sports performance, who knows it may even make you happier!
A deep relaxed squat is natural and easy for children as they play and move. At what point as we grow do we begin to lose the strength and flexibility to maintain and move like this?
How should you squat?
Your spine should be relaxed – this is a resting position
Feet should be about shoulder width apart however you can bring them together or move them
further apart – you can experiment as you aim towards a deeper more relaxed squat
Feet can be facing forward or turned slightly out, again see what feels good for you and helps you towards a deeper and more relaxed squat
If you experience pain in your feet, hips or knees – stand up and return to your squat for short periods of time building the length of time gradually.
Try to keep your heels on the floor as you squat preferably barefoot, this will get easier over time
Can’t squat very deep? Not finding it all “relaxing”? persist and over time your mobility and strength will increase and your perseverance will pay off as you begin to feel more free
The squat position is important in loads of daily activities and can be practiced with the movement of daily tasks – our chiropractor Nina practices while sweeping the kitchen floor – great for added mobility and balance.
So however you do it, I can’t emaphsize enough the importance of just getting down and doing it.