The “eat less, move more” motto of modern health and wellness stems from a good place, but it can be misleading when taken without context. Take for instance the “move more” part of the phrase; it almost seems like all one needs to do to achieve a better level of physical conditioning is to simply be more active. While this is true to a certain extent, there is also the issue of movement quality to consider.
Getting better at movement is a matter of both strength and skill, with the skill component edging out the strength part by just a hair. The truth is that most of us already possess the requisite strength when it comes to basic movement principles; we’ve merely lost our touch when it comes to performing them.
The squat is perhaps one of the most fundamental movement patterns out there, right alongside crawling and walking. Yet, not many adults these days are able to do what they themselves as babies so easily did. A proper bodyweight squat requires both balance and coordination – things that take time to develop and can be lost just as such.
The case for the daily deep squat is simple – you’re “greasing the groove” so that both your mind and body remain well-acquainted with what it feels like to execute a deep squat. Skill retention (and acquisition) is a matter of frequency. Do it well enough, often enough and you become better at expressing it on subsequent occasions.
Ideally, the deep squat should have you achieving full hip flexion, resulting in your hamstrings coming into contact with your calves. Your weight should be balanced across the middle of your foot and your chest should be tall. Being able to keep a neutral curve in your lower back would be ideal, but variances in hip anatomy across different individuals will mean that some will exhibit more lumbar flexion (AKA “butt-wink”) than others. This is fine as long it doesn’t collapse into a convex formation.
Holding this position for 30 seconds by itself isn’t some act of magic that will boost your athleticism, but doing this on a daily basis is one of the easiest ways to reinforce the motor pattern. Maintaining the deep squat also helps you to stimulate the muscles that are typically underutilised from hours of sitting and other sedentary behaviour. If at first you are unable to achieve the full depth of the movement, go as far as you can without compromising your position and work to progressively lower your depth. You can also look at addressing possible issues such ankle/calf tightness or inactive glutes that may be hampering your ability to perform a deep squat.
Even the simplest of acts can have a profound impact on the overall outcome of things. While the daily squat is far from being a magic pill, it is nevertheless a great step forward to addressing simple movement illnesses. Whether it’s running, jumping or lunging, having a body that is more responsive and cooperative when it comes to doing what the mind tells it to can only lead to greater gains!