Have you ever watched toddlers play? I have an almost 2 year old and I am amazed at the things he can do! Of course, as a PT, I watch his motor skills. Two weeks ago he learn how to jump, and it’s been so fun watching him get better at it! But one thing he learned very early and continues to do comfortably is squat. He can effortlessly squat and stay in that position for several minutes while he plays with no discomfort at all!
So yeah, yeah I get it, why is this relevant? In the developed world, we are taught to sit in chairs as we get older. Over time, we replaced squatting with sitting. This can affect our spinal posture significantly, and can cause low back pain, hip pain, knee pain, neck pain and/or shoulder pain!
So, our spine moves in many directions. It can move forward, backward, side to side, and rotate. It can also move in combinations of movement such as forward rotation, side rotation, etc. It’s crucial to our joints that our spine is able to move in ALL these directions; if one movement becomes too prominent and we lose the ability to move in the opposite direction, joints start to wear down and problems arise.
Years of improper sitting, standing, and/or lifting creates increased extension in the pelvis, in other words, your lower back and pelvis become “too arched.” This causes you to lose flexion, or the ability to bend. But Courtney! I can still bend over and touch my toes! Yes! And that is important! But bending only flexes a portion of our spine whereas a proper squat flexes more joints in one motion.
So what if you can’t squat?! Well, my friends, it’s certainly not the worst thing ever. You can work on your movement by practicing! Start by sitting on a low stool and take deep breaths. You can also hold on to a doorframe for balance and work on holding a squat position. If you have pain anywhere when you do that, then you might want to get a postural assessment by a physical therapist. Chances are, you have some movement loss in your spine, rib cage or pelvis that is creating a movement issue.
I would love to answer your questions! Please leave a comment about what you think!