The squat is one of the most basic positions we as humans assume from a very young age. As we learn how to get up from the ground, we instinctively squat before we raise up. However at some point in most of our lives, this simple behaviour that we had so much flexibility for as a child becomes increasingly difficult.
We start sitting in chairs far too much and wear shoes that elevate our heels which limits the amount our hips and ankles need to bend. Over time these joints become stiff which restricts our ability to squat and we causes us to miss out on the great benefits we can get from being able to perform a squat.
Some of the benefits of squatting
Our balance is very dependent on the movement of our ankles. This movement gives us feedback about where our centre of gravity is and if we are within it! The stiffer the ankles are, the less information we get and the more unsteady we become on our feet. Performing squats is a great way to improve the flexibility in your ankles.
Too much sitting means the muscles around the hips can tighten up as they don’t get stretched. This can create a myriad of problems including lower back pain and hip pain. The squat position stretches out the muscles around the hips helping to counteract the tension associated with prolonged sitting.
Better hip strength
Sitting not only tightens some of the muscles around the hips, but also reduces the strength of others. In particular the buttocks muscles (the gluteus maximus) which are the largest muscles in the body and are important for walking and lifting. Squatting exercises are extremely effective at targeting the strength of the buttocks muscles.