Let’s start with my favorite of the 5 basic human movements.
Is it just me, or is there something truly beautiful about the purity of a squat? It’s just so flippin’ functional. So simple. Yet somehow elegant.
In the West, we typically see it only in small children. I could go into great detail describing proper form for a squat, but my efforts would be all in vain because I could never do the movement more justice than the demonstration provided by a 3 year old as he plays with his Legos.
In other cultures, adults–including the elderly!–use the squat to accomplish tasks such as picking things up, moving from standing to sitting, peeing, pooping, and even resting. While most Americans wouldn’t dream of dropping into a squat in lieu of sitting on the floor (let alone a chair) a full, deep squat is a very normal resting position across the globe.
So while 90 year old Japanese woman have hour-long conversations resting in the bottom of a squat, Americans will spend about 30 seconds in a heels-up “frog-squat,” adopt a disgusted facial expression, slowly stand up, gently jiggle their legs back to normalcy, and then maybe experience a day’s worth of regret.
Why? Why is such a clearly natural human movement pattern so darn difficult for us?!
It’s a matter of joint mobility, usually at the ankle. The hiccup for many Americans is a shortened Achilles tendon, as caused by our sedentary lifestyles, poor walking posture (sometimes due to wearing high-heels or even thick-heeled shoes), as well as repetitive and abrasive heel-striking (like running on pavement).
Although I think a barbell back squat is a fun and extremely beneficial, useful exercise for strength-training, you would be completely missing my point if you considered a squat as merely a weightlifting move or even a bodyweight exercise. In fact, let’s not consider the squat an exercise at all. I think we are much better off thinking of it as a primary movement pattern–one which all of us should be able to do in order to experience the greatest quality of life.
Want to learn to improve your ankle mobility and ultimately learn how to perform a proper squat (possibly with the goal of eventually adding squats to an exercise routine but possibly with the sole goal of moving better and feeling better)?
Join me for a 10-week group coaching experience! I’ll be taking you through Functional Foundations. You can think of it as a hands-on course in fitness literacy.