Squat Until You Drop
Live Like You Can
By Janis McDonald
When did the squat become a scary event? Squats have long been criticized for being destructive to knees; however, research has shown absolutely that proper squats actually improve knee stability and strengthen connective tissue. Pain and difficulty when squatting are sure to be a result of poor technique, loss of lower body strength, and no consideration of different hip designs. Customizing each squat position is crucial to an effective and non-pain performance. While indeed hip mobility and calf flexibility impact a proper squat, more important is where the socket is placed in the pelvis, as well as femur head length and ball angle. For instance, while one person is comfortable with a narrow, feet forward stance, another person must widen the legs and turn the toes slightly out to be pain-free.
Everyone has to squat; it is a basic human movement and helps counteract prolonged sitting. Squatting forces the body’s parts to work and grow stronger in unison. Better mobility and surviving a fall are the gifts of a connected body that can move as one unit due to enhanced communication between the brain and muscles groups.
If you are already squatting, here are some tips to check your technique:
1) First perfect the squat using your own body weight.
2) Try out different stance and foot angles to find the one that best suits your body.
3) Use a 60 (heel)/40 (toe) weight distribution on your feet.
3) Sit back into the squat, breaking at the hips, pushing your buttocks back as you go down, which will keep your knees more directly over the feet. (Think hovering in a public toilet.)
4) If your knees are bothering you, you are knee squatting. Stop and correct form.
5) When rising from the squat, avoid tucking your buttocks under. This will put pressure on lower back. Keep back in a neutral position. Check out your hamstrings for tightness and your abs for weakness.
6) When returning to standing, your hips and shoulders must come up together as you push off your heels and squeeze your buttocks.
How to start squatting when you can’t gracefully stand up and sit down using a chair? Here’s a place to start:
1) Hold a doorframe or post for support.
2) Repeatedly stand up and sit down using a chair, going slowly in order to avoid plopping, while challenging balance and strength.
3) Lower yourself to a toilet instead of doing a semi-controlled fall.
4) Perform 1/4 squats holding someone’s hand.
5) Perform the Gork Squat (Rice Paddy Squat) holding onto a secure object. See how long you are able to stay down. This squat helps loosen hips, legs, calves, and ankles in preparation for a functional squat.
Janis McDonald, Professional Health Coach, Functional Aging Trainer, Private Gym. 152 0457. Follow the Live Like You Can Blog! Go to: www.livelikeyoucan.com.