When it comes to fitness buzz words, “functional fitness” is definitely currently trending. So we’re going to talk a little about one of the most functional fitness related activities out there- squatting. Have you ever stopped to think about your daily activities and how many of them might involve some form of squatting? Getting on and off the couch, in and out of the car, getting something out a low cabinet, picking your kids up from the floor- the list goes on. If we are not able to squat effectively, it drastically limits our ability to perform necessary daily tasks.
You might be wondering, though- “wait, I thought squatting was bad for my knees?” Well I’m here to tell you that this is not true. What is true, is that when done correctly, squatting will strengthen your hips, thighs, back, and even core muscles which can all protect your knees in the long term.
So what is the correct way to perform a squat? I’m glad you asked, because I’m here to tell you!
For the set up- you want to stand with your feet about shoulder width apart with toes turned slightly out at a comfortable angle. The very first movement in a squat should be a weight shift backward. I like to tell people to pretend that they are going to sit into a chair that is too far behind them. So shift your weight back so that you stick your tush out a little bit before beginning to bend your knees. Then as you start to bend your knees, continue pushing your hips back, all while keeping your chest up tall. You may extend your arms in front of you for balance if needed. Only squat down as far as you are able while keeping good form. If that means only squatting a little ways down, that’s fine. Be sure also to keep your knees pulling apart from each other as you squat down, so that your knees point the same direction as your toes. Once you’ve squatted as far down as you can with good form- stand back up!
Congratulations, you’ve done a squat! This doesn’t mean that every single time you sit down, crouch, or pick something up off the floor that it needs to look exactly like this, but this is how to practice squatting for fitness, and many of these principles will apply when doing more functional daily tasks which include a squat. If you don’t quite feel ready for the version of a squat described above, you’re in luck. I’ve got some modifications for you to build up to it!
Now that we’ve covered the importance of squatting and how to correctly perform a squat, you have no more excuses to sit on your duff doing diddly squat, unless it’s so that you can stand back up again with perfect squat form!
Bob Cranny, PT