By Batista Gremaud
Squatting—the ancient exercise practice of holding a low, wide-legged position with a straight torso—is a lost art. For centuries, squatting was an essential part of everyday life for many cultures around the world. It could be seen as a practical exercise for physical movement across the landscape, from washing clothes to just getting around. For some cultures, the act of squatting represented a sign of respect or greeting, while in others it was a traditional way to prepare meals or pray. Today, however, squatting is hardly an activity any of us think of or even partake in.
In the modern world, it has been replaced by sitting. A rise in sedentary lifestyles and an increasingly inactive culture has resulted in a lack of daily exposure to squatting. As such, it is quickly becoming a forgotten exercise, one which is no longer practiced and rarely talked about.
While we may not realize it, it is important to keep in mind the deep roots that squatting holds in our history. This forgotten art teaches us how to find stability through movement, and it can serve as a reminder of the importance of physical activity for our overall wellbeing. Squatting can be a valuable tool for stretching out tight muscles, improving posture, and achieving a greater range of movement.
In a busy world, it can be easy to forget the value of squatting, but it is essential to reintroduce this lost art into our routine. Incorporating squatting into your day-to-day activities can help build strength, flexibility, and balance, while also reacquainting us with an important exercise practice that still has a place in the modern world.
Squatting Helps With Digestion
Squatting helps improve digestion and ease constipation by helping the body relax and naturally align the spine. Squatting encourages better alignment for the intestines, aids in the absorption of nutrients, and reduces pressure on the lower abdomen. Squatting stimulates peristalsis - the contraction and relaxation of muscles in the intestines responsible for moving food and waste. It helps to move fecal matter through the digestive tract more effectively by improving the natural movement of the intestines, rectum, and anus. This can result in a decrease in straining and bloating. Additionally, squatting is known to help reduce hemorrhoid pain and inflammation.
If you want to reap the digestion-improving benefits of squatting, there are many techniques you can try. To begin, stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart and lower your body by bending your knees and leaning slightly forward. Make sure to keep your chest lifted to maintain good posture.
Hold this position for several seconds, and repeat as needed. You can also try squatting wall sits, which involve leaning against a wall while in a squatting position. You may also want to use a short stool when sitting to help achieve better alignment. If done consistently, squatting may help improve your digestion and constipation over time.
Squatting is an important part of physical fitness
Every joint in our body has synovial fluid in it. This fluid provides nutrition to the cartilage. Two things are required to produce this fluid: movement and compression. If a joint doesn’t go through its full range, for example, if the hips and knees never go past 90 degrees, this can cause the body to degenerate and stop the production of synovial fluid.
Squatting can be incorporated into many forms of exercise including weight lifting, powerlifting, and bodyweight exercises such as Yoga.
Weight lifting is a great option for those looking to improve their squat. The basic squat motion is a compound exercise which activates multiple muscles and is a cornerstone of weightlifting. Performing weighted squats with exercises such as the back squat, front squat, and overhead squat can help add some extra challenge and strength gains to the overall squat exercise.
Powerlifting is another form of exercise which encourages squatting. Squatting with a barbell is included in powerlifting competitions, often making up one of the three primary lifts, along with the bench press and deadlift. While the squat should always be executed with proper form, powerlifters typically take heavier loads, allowing for greater strength gains.
Bodyweight exercises are an excellent way to incorporate squatting into any routine. Regular oscillation squats, jump squats, and single-leg squats are some of the best bodyweight exercises for targeting the lower body. Also, bodyweight exercises can be done almost anywhere, making them an optimal choice for those without access to a gym.
Yoga is another great modality to incorporate squatting. Many popular yoga poses such as the low lunge, the goddess, and malasana poses require a strong squat foundation, and working on the range of motion and balance while performing them can result in improved overall mobility.
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Squatting is an incredibly beneficial exercise that can benefit your physical and mental health in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most notable benefits of squatting:
1. Improved Balance and Coordination: The squatting movement challenges your proprioception (balance and coordination) and can help improve balance and coordination, especially with single-leg squats.
2. Strengthening Your Sports Performance: Squatting is a key movement in almost all sports and can help you become a better athlete. It strengthens your quads, hips, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as your core and stabilizer muscles, making any activity you do more efficient and powerful.
3. Increased Mobility and Flexibility: Squatting helps improve mobility and flexibility in your hips, ankles, and spine, allowing you to move more freely and pain-free and preventing injuries.
4. Stronger Bones and Joints: When you squat, it helps strengthen your bones and joints, reduce joint pain, and reduce your risk of injuries from everyday activities.
5. Improved Glute Strength: Squatting is an effective way to build glute strength, which is important for any type of movement, including running, jumping, and other athletic activities.
6. Stress Relief: Squatting can help reduce stress and improve mental focus and clarity. The physical and mental benefits of squatting can be a great way to destress and relax after a long day.
Squatting Safety Tips
At the same time, it is essential to engage in safe squatting in order to reduce injury risk.
Beginners should focus on building strength and form before attempting to increase the duration and depth of their squatting sessions. Also, placing barbells over the neck can send pain signals through your spine. Therefore, when practicing squats, always make sure to place the bar over the shoulders, not the neck, and use a squat pad. Depending on your fitness level or if you suffer from back pain, other practices such as the front squat or squats on a machine may be better suited.
Skipping out on proper techniques and form can expose you to negative consequences, such as neck and back pain.
Batista Gremaud is the CEO and president of Dr Fitness International, an International Body Designer, Strength Training Expert, No1 Best Selling author of Feminine Body Design, Empowering Fitness For A Pain-Free Life, co-creator of the Feminine Body Design online strength training mentoring system, and producer of Dr Fitness USA’s THE SHOW
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