What does your squat say about you? (Part One)
Andrew Cullinane (MISCP) here – I am a Chartered Physiotherapist who works from the PhysioCare Carrickmines and Rathfarnham clinics. Today I am going to be talking about the squat. Everyone knows what it is, but does everyone know how to do it? The squat is one of the pillars of weightlifting and one of the most popularly prescribed exercises in workout programmes today. The squat is a compound exercise, meaning it is a movement that uses more than one joint (knees and hips particularly). As a result, you can get great physical rewards in terms of strength gains from squatting. It is one of the most basic and fundamental movements for everyday life. Think about it everytime you go to sit down or reach to pick something heavy off the floor – you’re squatting. As a result of all this squatting in our daily lives, we should all be pretty good at it, using the age old mantra that “practice makes perfect”. However this is not the case. How often do we just collapse into a seat? Every single time we do, we’re reinforcing a faulty movement pattern – essentially telling our body that it’s ok to move in such a manner. For the vast majority of the population squatting properly has become a nearly impossible task.
The reason we can’t squat properly is simple – we either lack mobility or strength in certain muscle groups, and more often than not both. Over time, prolonged periods of sitting can stiffen and shorten certain muscles and cause them to weaken and contract poorly. Another example is when we over-train with lots of running or weight-lifting, but then don’t supplement it with any mobility or stretching we run into similar problems. We didn’t always struggle so much with such a basic, but important movement. Toddlers are a great example of this. Young children (and babies in particular as they’re starting to become more mobile) display movement patterns that even elite athletes would be envious of. Look at how your own or your friend’s children can hold a deep squat position with effortless ease. So why is it a child (who’s brain is only developing) can do it and we, as fully grown adults struggle so much? How can we go from being able to squat perfectly to hardly at all? As we develop and grow, and go through the education system and then into our working lives, we unlearn this movement. Our lifestyles are somewhat dominated by sitting be it at work or in the car or simply at home relaxing. As a species we weren’t designed to sit for such long periods, just think back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Add in on top of that how poorly we all sit. Modern day furniture must take some of the blame as well.
How we can help
At PhysioCare we are a team of Chartered Physiotherapists and Personal trainers with the shared goal of helping our patients to get and feel better. Our Physiotherapy assessments can provide you with treatment and education to restore your form, posture and movement to optimum levels. We also offer gym based rehabilitation in our Blanchardstown and Carrickmines PhysioGyms should you need to undergo active rehabilitation. By correcting our movement patterns, the human body will notice a reduction in pain and discomfort and will get and feel better. High quality physiotherapy can achieve this coupled in most cases with a tailored exercise programme. Did you know that we have a video library of free step-by-step exercise videos that you can watch? Click/tap here to be taken to our YouTube channel. If you’ve found this interesting, click/tap here to read Part 2 where I’ll run through the common mistakes I see everyday in the clinics and simple exercises to help fix them.