So, you think you can squat? The first time I met my alignment guru in person, I showed her my squat. I was sure I had achieved the model squat and wanted to run it by her, or, let's face it, show it off. It seemed so straightforward. Afterall, it was just a squat, not rocket science.
I've never struggled to keep my heels on the ground. My knees and hips have always graciously accommodated lowering my body all the way down to the floor. I confess, I really thought I was gifted. All my years of ballet were finally paying off in something besides an ankle injury!
Needless to say I was rather deflated and humbled afterwards when Katy pointed out a few key areas that could use some "fine tuning" shall we say. On the bright side, there was plenty of room for improvement!
The photo on the right is what my squat looked like once I implemented certain alignment parameter (I'll share them with you in the video segment):
Anatomy of a squat
Whether you think you can squat or you know that you can’t, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a squat.
Just what is a squat? Well, squats come in all variations, but at their most basic level, they’re a movement that involves bending at the knee and hip joints. Pretty simple, yes? I’m guessing that based on that definition, the majority of you reading this can squat.
In fact, when you sit on a chair or a couch with your feet on the floor, you’re in a squatting position. You’re also in a squatting position when you’re on the toilet or driving your car.
But I'm curious.
When you go beyond 90 degrees of hip and knee flexion, and lower down into a full squat, do you notice that one (or more) of the following happens?
- your feet turn out
- your low back rounds as your pelvis tucks under
- your heels pop up off the ground
- your knees travel in front of your ankles
Which isn't to say that there's one perfect way to squat. There isn't.
But if the only way you can achieve a full squat is by turning your feet out or moving your knees forward, it clues us in to certain limitations you have that impact how your body moves all of the time, not just when you are squatting.
What are some common limitations?
- tight, short calves
- weak (and tight) hamstrings
- tight psoas
- tight quadriceps
- weak glutes
Why limitations matter
You carry your limitations with you into every movement you do, not just squats.
They decrease your ability to reap the pelvic floor benefits squats can offer and prevent you from being able to reap essential movement nutrition from every other movement you do (not just squats).
It's a bit like eating food but not having the enzymes necessary to break it down so you can absorb the nutrients contained within the food.
This lack of movement nutrition impacts the health of your whole entire body, including the function of your pelvic floor.
And, in case you were wondering, 200 Kegels a day are not a substitute for the whole body movement nutrition necessary to maintain a functional pelvic floor. Neither are 200 squats a day for that matter.
If you want to maintain (or improve) the function of your pelvic floor, you must learn to move well and move more.
Is it time to squat?
Are you really ready to start swapping your 200 Kegels a day for 200 squats a day? Probably not.
But there are many ways to gradually improve your movement nutrition without overloading your body in the process.
Watch this video for some simple tips you can start implementing right now, to begin to shift the limitations that interfere with your squat nutrition.