The squat is flexion (bending) through the knee and posterior tilting of the pelvis with the back straight. Or in more simple terms- from a standing position to a seated position without using our arms! When we were younger we would often play in this squatted position but with the knees bent even more so our buttocks are near the floor.
This move is integral in any lower limb rehabilitation programme and also a key component in any lower back stabilisation programme.
Is it muscle strength?
The fact the most of us are standing and walking then no. The prime movers in this move are the glutes (buttocks) quads (front of thigh) hamstrings (back of thigh) hip flexors (top of thigh into groin) and lower back. If these were not working then not only walking would be an issue but standing, sitting, actually anything that involves standing!
Are we body aware?
We all know that the body wasn’t designed to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day (however this is good for our bank accounts!) The price to pay is lengthen muscles when they should be tight, poor core stability and lower back strength. Glute strength is impaired and the body has to compensate. One of the most common compensations that the body does is low down the lower spine to aid the muscles. Any sort of compensation is bad and will eventually cause us issues.
Pelvic tilting is the biggest movement that gets impaired. Is it that we just don’t know how to do it anymore is are the muscles so tight that it is unable to tilt correctly?
Pelvic tilting is anterioly and posteriorly tilting the pelvis. Imagine that you had a tail- it is moving the hips so that you push your tail out behind you and then tuck the tail in towards you. This is the starting movement of a squat- we tilt the pelvis posteriorly and bend the knees. If we fail to do this the pressure of the bend goes straight to our lower back and to our knees.
Being body aware is the first step. Start with pelvic tilt whilst standing. This involves standing hip width part and tilting the pelvic out and in. Lift the from side to side keeping the spine straight. Gym users can do this sitting on a stability ball in front of a mirror so you can see yourself keeping straight.
We then need to visualise switching on and off the glute muscles or buttocks. With each posterior tilt “turn off” the buttocks then with each anterior tilt “turn on” the buttocks.
Once this movement is relearned and you feel the control needed then whilst the posterior tilt is happening bend through the knees and allow the weight of your body move behind you. Remember the back should remain straight however you will lean forward to balance. Then straighten the knees tilt the pelvis inwards tense the glutes and stand straight.
When do we squat?
From anything from sitting on a chair behind you, sitting on the toilet through to gardening the squat plays a huge part of everyday life so the failure to do this effectively and under full control can cause some issues in your quality of life.
For more information on how to squat please contact Joe Reemer, our Rehabilitation Consultant for advice and tips.