Top tips to help sitting nature’s chair (the squat)

Watching my daughter progress through different stages of learning to move has been fascinating. This has especially been the case since she started walking as it has opened up a whole new world of running, climbing and exploring.

One thing I am quite jealous of is her ability to squat. She just drops right down as if it is nothing (to her it is!), hangs out for a bit, maybe drops further so she’s sitting while she fiddles with something, then pops back up and totters off (her back is flat as pancake throughout btw).

It’s amazing, if only to compare how difficult the movement has become for me after too many years of not using my squat and lounging about. It has also inspired me to get my squat back, or more specifically have the ability to sit in a squat for an extended period of time, starting at 1 minute eventually working up to 10+.

The hope is that if I can do it, then she will never stop and won’t miss out on the mobility benefits of regular squatting. I’m getting there, after a bit of limbering up I can now hang out down there for about a minute.

I’ve used exercises from a few different resources to improve my squat, not really following any routine but just doing a few bits during the day and as part of my warm up/cool down. Here are my top picks:

  • Mobility WOD is a great resource for exercises that can improve the squat. In fact K Starr uses the squat as a monthly diagnostic check to see how your mobility is improving. The foot on the wall or sofa stretch is especially good but there’s loads more in there. I love the way he refers to the squat as a paleo chair – it’s spot on.
  • This post by Ido Portal has some exercises I had not seen before for working on external and internal rotation of the hips and also ankle mobility. A quick run through these makes a squat feel much more relaxed and easy.
  • Nick Tumminello demonstrates a great exercise in this video. It makes getting into a deeper squat much easier if you are feeling a bit tight and the addition of an overhead reach really enforces sitting back and a more upright body position.
  • Finally, in this post Todd Hargrove uses Feldenkrais techniques to improve the squat. Feldenkrais involves improving awareness of how different parts of the body are involved in movements to make them easier to perform. This lesson followed the same path as a baby learning to stand, starting with four points of balance (two hands, two feet), moving to three and then finally two. It was really interesting and my squat was definitely much more comfortable afterwards. This is something for further exploration at a later date – luckily there is also a follow up post.

I also want to mention Matt Metzgar as he has just run a series of posts about his own quest for a flat foot squat. There’s some gold in the comments sections of these posts, it was through these that I discovered the Ido Portal & Nick Tumminello tips. They can be found here, here, here, here and here.

Finally, to mimic Matt’s last post here’s me hanging out in my chair. There’s still much work to be done (feet pointing out, feet wider than shoulder width, back far from flat) but we’re getting there.

Squat

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