Why you should squat?
Why you should squat?
Diana Tencic, Body Be Well
WHAT IS A SQUAT?
The definition of a squat is to crouch or sit with one’s knees bent and one’s heels close to or touching one’s buttocks or the backs of one’s thighs.
But do we know how to perform a squat correctly? The majority of people will have been taught to never go past a 90 degree angle at the knee joints or may never have done squats because of bad knees or back pain. This is an interesting thought, considering all of us squat every day in our normal life. How would we be able to sit on a chair or on a toilet? That would make life very interesting indeed.
So let’s go over a few key points. Before attempting a squat we need to consider:
1. Knee injuries (patella tracking issues, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, damaged meniscus).
2. Back injuries (bulging or prolapsed discs, vertebrae fractures, ligament sprains, scoliosis, kyphosis, or any spinal arthritis). This includes the whole back region from the neck (cervical region), through the upper back (thoracic region) to the lower the back (lumbar region) and pelvic area.
The other common issues that also need to be considered when squatting are shoulder injuries when weights are to be used, if you have a hernia or have had a hernia repaired, and also if there is pelvic floor weakness.
WHY DO PEOPLE SQUAT POORLY?
It’s interesting that a movement we all do every day has become such a difficult movement for most people to undertake properly, let alone do correctly in the gym.
I believe our modern lifestyle has contributed to this. Take sitting: the average person sits for around eight hours per day. This has long-term detrimental health effects because sitting places three times more of a compressive load on the spine than standing. Sitting for long periods of time repeatedly over years causes a shortening of the hip flexor and hamstring muscle groups and a lengthening of the quadriceps muscle group.
Sitting also causes constant compression on the gluteals. When we combine these factors, the overall effect is muscle weakening, muscle imbalance and a disruption to the neurological system that controls these areas.
One of the best examples of correct squatting technique can be seen in our toddlers and young children. Just watch how they squat. When was the last time you heard a 12-month-old child complain of tight hamstrings? Never! Instead they will happily hold a deep squat two centimetres from the ground for minutes, happily playing and never staggering up complaining of the muscle burn in their quads or swearing at how sadistic the trainer is.
Poor teaching of technique or the person’s inability to process the information into body movement are also factors to consider. Once you add these two things together, the overall result is that a large number of people are unable to squat properly or get injuries while trying to squat.
HOW TO SQUAT SAFELY WITH THE BEST RESULTS?
Squats are a great exercise. They are a compound exercise, meaning there is movement at two or more joints, multiple muscle groups have to work together and squatting is highly functional for our everyday life. Squats are also one of the best exercises to shape your legs and butt.
There are many different types of squats. The most important ones to do are the types of squats that best suit your needs and do not increase an injury or cause a new one. Squatting with a barbell on your shoulders is not a good idea if you have a bulging disc in your back. Don’t try to do deep squats until you have a great technique.
SO HERE ARE MY TIPS ON SQUATTING:
1. Get taught how to squat by a trainer who knows about squatting. Not all trainers know how to teach a squat.
2. Work on your leg and back flexibility, core strength and control, and pelvic stability and control.
3. Vary the types of squats you do. Variation will always give you the best long-term body changes.
4. Always maintain a strong core.
5. Keep your back straight but not vertical to the ground.
6. Keep your weight on your heels and then drive up through the heels from the bottom of the squat.
7. Don’t try to squat deeper then you can control, especially when you are holding weights.
8. Stretch between sets.
9. Squat as if you are sitting on the toilet.
Always seek medical clearance prior to starting any exercise program and consult qualified fitness coaches, such as Body Be Well food and fitness coaching, to asses your personal goals and needs.
Diana Tencic and Ross Andrews believe that eating well and exercising well are key to healthy, strong bodies. Their business ‘Body Be Well’ combines both food coaching and personal training in one location, to help you achieve your goals in a holistic manner
Body Be Well are a part of the Nourish Melbourne Community. They offer a free 30 minute fitness consultation for new members and $15 off their three week workshop packages. Click here to find out more about our partnership, or click here to find out more about becoming a Nourish Melbourne Member.