I spend a lot of time helping patients restore normal motion in their backs, hips, knees, and ankles. Prolonged sitting and sedentary lifestyles create stiffness and sometimes pain in these areas. I teach patients the deep squat or resting squat to restore motion and strength to the lower back, abdominals and legs. The deep squat is also functional. It will help you lift properly, climb stairs, move from sitting to standing, run, jump and just about any other activity you can think of. It also promotes good digestion and evacuation of waste from the body.
The deep squat helps restore motion and strength to the lower back, abdominals and legs. This exercise moves your back and legs through their full range of motion and activates your butt muscles, your deep and superficial abdominals, and your pelvic floor muscles.
Start by deciding what position you will have your feet in.
Position 1 - If you don't have a lot of restriction of motion in your hips you can start with your feet hip distance apart pointing forward.
Position 2 - If you have any discomfort in your hips turn your feet out. You can also adjust your feet wider to make the exercise more comfortable.
- Stand in front of a railing or a counter with your feet in Position 1 or 2. You can hold on for support.
- Slowly bend your knees until they are in line with your toes and pause there.
- Keeping your knees in line with your toes, slowly drop your butt towards your heels. As you do this motion, your knees, hips and low back will fully flex.
- Check to see if your hips, knees and ankles are in line and adjust if necessary. Allow yourself to relax in the resting squat and take 3 breaths in and out.
- Check to see if your weight is distributed evenly through your feet, keep your knees over your toes, press up evenly through your feet to return to the starting position. Try to come up straight rather than forward. Your hand on the railing is just for balance if you need it. When you are standing take notice of where your weight is in your feet..toes or heels or centred? Centre your weight if it’s not and start again.
To get the most out of this exercise, do it daily. You only need to do 3-4 repetitions. There are modifications that you can make:
If you can’t flex fully at the hip or knee, try starting with your feet wider apart and slightly turned out.
If you can’t keep your heels on the ground, place a rolled towel under your heels.
If you can’t flex fully at the knee, place a small pillow or towel behind as you lower your butt towards your heels.
This exercise should not cause pain. Adjust and modify your body position so that you can do it comfortably. If that means you are only going through a partial range of motion, that is ok. Just keep working on it and progress to the unmodified exercise.
There are countless benefits to this exercise! This skill can dramatically improve your mobility and ability to function well. Furthermore it can help prevent injury and re-injury. Take less than 3 minutes out of your day and start squatting!