The squat is one of the most foundational movement patterns that humans are capable of performing. Basically this movement has been ingrained in our DNA. Don’t believe me? Take a look at a baby around one year of age who has just started to walk. When they want to pick something up off the ground they don’t bend over at the waist with a rounded back like most adults do. Instead they stand over the item and then they squat down into a low ass-to-grass position with a perfectly flat back. Basically they perform a near perfect squat without ever having been taught how to do it.
The fact that so many adults cannot squat is an indication of how far removed we have become from our nature. Babies’s bodies have not had time to adapt to the horrors of sitting for long periods of time and so their little bodies are very supple. They can bend and twist and squat without any restriction or pain. And that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be like as adults! But unfortunately due to our social norms that are based more on economics than on health we have adapted most people away from their true nature and instead adapted them to the chair and the sofa.
So what can we do about it? Simple, get back to squatting. Start slowly and only go as far as your body will naturally let you go, but over time increase the range of motion and begin doing it on a more regular basis. Once you have mastered the basic squat, start adding in variations to the movement. The more novelty you can incorporate into the movement patterns the more your body will adapt and the more supple you will become. Think of this as building up your literacy around movement. Only being able to perform one kind of squat is like only being able to speak a few words in a given language. But being able to perform many variations of squats is equivalent to being fluent in that language to the point where you can craft whatever kind of sentence you want.
Here’s great article from American Council on Exercise (ACE) entitled 7 Squat Variations That Will Strengthen Your Lower Body. It includes a variety of novel squat variations that are sure to challenge your body and make your workouts more interesting.
Besides being a regular contributor to the Function Health Club blog, Jeff Doyle is also the co-owner of Function Health Club as well as a Personal Trainer, BCRPA Trainer of Fitness Leaders, Agatsu Kettlebell Instructor and Older Adult Wellness Practitioner. He also has a Bachelor of Human Kinetics. You can contact Jeff directly at jeff@FunctionHandF.com.