Are you having difficulties with squatting? Perhaps you are able to squat but you don’t feel quite confident with how you are moving?
As a chiropractor, we care that you can squat! Not only is it important for you to live your daily life, it can also be your back pain solution.
Squat therapy is a series of drills that can help you reacquire the ability to squat. All of us, at some points in our lives, can squat. Over time, some of us seem to lose the ability or the confidence to get into a squatting position.
Squat therapy can help! Through these drills, you should find yourself getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, and noticing your movement patterns improve.
What are the benefits of squatting?
Improve your core engagement
A lot of times people work on their core through isolated exercises. This may give you a satisfying burn. However, they are largely non-functional. That is, they do not reflect what your core is used in your daily life.
Squatting is a functional way to work your core muscles. During a squat, your core muscle will work while your limbs are in movement. This is closer to how you may use your core in daily life.
Have a think about it. What activities or daily living require you to hold a plank-like position for minutes?
On the other hand, sitting and standing from a chair or toilet or picking up something from the ground all can involve squatting.
Fun fact: research has shown that free weight exercises work as well as core-specific exercises. You don’t need to spend hours planking for a well-developed core.
Work multiple muscle groups at the same time
Many muscle groups have to work to give you a perfect squat.
The intrinsic muscles of your feet contract to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. This stops you from falling over.
The thighs and hamstrings are the lever muscles that help you bring your body up and down.
Your low back would also be involved! During a squat, you would have to “hinge” your spine forwards. This means your lumbar spine and other spinal muscles would have to work to allow you to assume the position.
Squatting is a great exercise because for each unit of time, you get a lot of work done! You get to kill multiple birds with a single movement.
Develop better body awareness (aka proprioception) and improve your balance
You know how some people would sit into a chair and miss it completely? This has to do with how well you know your body in space.
It is not uncommon for people with lower back pain to have poorer awareness of their low back.
As a result of this reduced awareness, they are more susceptible to committing movement errors. Studies have used MRI scans to show that patients with persistent pain have brain structures that differ from pain-free individuals. The area of the brain that is affected is the region that processes movements.
By squating, you are providing feedback to your brain to where your limbs are in space. This will activate the neural pathways required for squatting and will keep your bodily awareness healthy for many years to come.
The Asian Squat can improve your balance over time. To maintain a deep squatting position for a prolonged amount of time, you need to have good balance! If not, you will fall over.
Children are brought up with the idea of squatting to perform daily activities, so it comes naturally to them. They are practicing balance and stability from an early age.
Because you need to activate your core muscles to stay upright in the squat, this helps with your posture too.
Helps women during labour
If you or your partner is expecting a baby or are planning for one, adding squats to your workouts can be helpful. Squats have been shown to help pregnant women during labor and delivery because it teaches your pelvis to open. This assists in the baby’s descent.
Isn’t the body wonderful?
Squatting is the better way to poop
Sitting toilets are definitely more comfortable than squat toilets. However, squatting toilets may actually allow more efficient removal of waste.
As the saying goes, don’t fix what isn’t broken. Our ancestors have squat for poop time for thousands of years! This is the default way to defecate.
If you have difficulties with toilet time, perhaps try using a squatting toilet for a change! Don’t forget to train your asian squats before giving it a shot.
Improve your mobility and flexibility (aka help you touch your toes)
As you start working on your squat, your mobility and flexibility will improve.
The deep squat requires hip, knee, and ankle mobility. Without adequate joint mobility, you would struggle to assume the position. As you practise squat therapy, you will see your mobility improves as your body adapts to the exercises.
Your flexibility will also improve. In order to assume an Asian squat position. Your muscles will need to lengthen to allow you to get down into a squat.
If you feel “stuck” every time you try to squat, it’s likely that you don’t have enough mobility, your muscles are not used to working at the length required to squat, or even both!
While a lot of people would use stretching as their go-to strategy to improve their range of motion, squatting is actually the way more efficient way to get there. This is because squatting is a complex movement that requires a series of contraction and relaxation of your muscles while stretching is only a passive maneuver with little to no long-term value.
Increase activities of daily living
Doing squats requires a movement pattern that can be used in everyday life.
We need to squat to perform a number of activities, from lifting a child into our arms to storing groceries into a low cupboard.
The asian squat simply makes it easier for you to carry out the activities we need in our daily lives.
If you dread loading the washing machine (front load) or reaching under the kitchen sink for the rubbish chute, adding squats into your routine exercise will help make them easier.
Unleash your inner athlete
Because the lower body and core muscles are essential to great performance, squatting can be helpful for many sports.
A deep squat uses flexion and extension at the hips, knees, and ankles, all of which are commonly the most used joints in sports.
Practicing movements in these joints can translate to better performance for athletes.
Deep squatting can improve explosive movements such as jumping and sprinting.
A reported that strength and conditioning can reduce risk of injury by up to 67%. As for flexibility? A mere 4%.
Why do I find this ‘Asian’ Squat so elusive!?
The key factor seems to be ankle flexibility.
A 2009 study in Japan found that men who found it impossible to deep squat had particularly inflexible ankles. This is also in part, according to Ausinheiler, why kids have no problem squatting.
Most of us are born with the innate flexibility required to squat. As we grow into adulthood, we start to lose range of motion for movements we no longer perform day-to-day.
Of course, there is no universal solution to the squat problem.
No two people are the same and there are still numerous other factors that may — quite literally — play a part holding you back from a deep squat.
It is worth noting that in order to squat deep (i.e., with your heels down and buttock close to your heels), you need to achieve 130 degrees of hip flexion and 111-165 degrees of knee flexion!
To continue to learn more about squat therapy, check out our next post.
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Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.
Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.
*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.