How Deep Squats Can Improve Your mobility
Look at a picture someone took of their experience in Southeast Asia and you will most likely see someone squatting down at the street corner eating or cooking. When was the last time you walked around your local market or shopping center and saw someone in a full deep squat? I am certain the answer is never.
Next time you are around a small child watch how they move, especially kids under 5. Notice that they go into a full squat when standing, almost sitting on their heels. I’m sure when you get up there is some rolling, grunting and awkward movement before you eventually stagger to your feet. How much do you think that has to do with your hip mobility? If a small child can do it so effortlessly I am certain the human body is designed to move such a way.
While you are watching your favorite TV show in the comfort of your own home try going into a full squat. Now before you say your knees are shot or whatever realize this is most likely because you are not flexible at the hip. First, push your butt back and down like you are going to do a barbell squat with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Next, try to rest your butt as low as possible, like you are trying to sit on your heels. Now if you can do this without your heels coming off the floor – Congratulations, you have good hip mobility. If your heel is lifting up or you just can’t get down there that is fine but now you know you have some work to do.
If you are very close I recommend trying to watch TV for about 10 minutes a day like this until it feels really comfortable. You will be amazed at the increased mobility, which could help alleviate problems stemming from certain tight muscles.
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Now for those of us who can’t get there right away, don’t fret. I have two ways which really helped me to be able to sit in this position for extended periods of time. The easiest is to perform the squat in front of something that you can hold onto and will support you pulling against it. Simply face a pole or ledge you can grab and squat back away from it. While you sit back you can use your arms to help you sit back onto your heels. The second way is to put your heels close to a wall then sit back into the wall and push your back flat as you squat all the way down. Practice holding this position longer each day. Every few days try testing your squat and see how far you have come. Once you can get in a full squat without your heels coming up try staying in that position for at least a few minutes a day.
Deep full squats are incorporated into everyday life in places across the world. However, here in the US we rarely ever get into this position. Improving your hip and ankle mobility by getting comfortable in this position can work wonders for your movement and possible reduce some pain associated with tight hips and calves. Spending just a few minutes a day can work wonders for your overall mobility and flexibility.