Moving your body consistently throughout the day is a good. Injury prevention is also good. Moving FOR injury prevention is REALLY GOOD. And one of the best ways you can move for injury prevention is to squat.
Now, I’m not talking about using a squat rack at the gym, or doing a barbell or even a kettlebell squat, though those definitely have their place. I’m talking about incorporating your average, everyday bodyweight squat and squat holds into your daily routine.
This is a natural human movement and position that many of us in the Western world have trouble with. Sure, maybe we CAN do it – sort of – just not through a full range of motion. But why? Probably because we are tight in certain places and weak in others. But why? Simply because we never do them. But why would we? These days, we don’t need to. We have things like cars, desks, couches, etc. to help us out.
Think about this: people in some places around the world use the squat all the time as a resting position. Little kids do it when they are playing. Most adults in North America NEVER do it – but they should. It’s good for maintaining and/or developing hip, knee, and ankle mobility, along with glute, quadricep and core strength. Doing a bodyweight squat involves pretty much everything from the mid-to-lower body. It’s not hard to add in some upper body work too.
As a physician, I prescribe this exercise to my patients a lot – and I do mean a LOT. As a human, since you SHOULD be able to do it, there is no better way to get there, then to practice. Make it a regular thing. Now assuming you have no contraindications (and I’d say there are typically very few), starting with a few reps and/or short hold times is the way to go. Build up as you get comfortable.
So when and where should you do this squat thing? Do it anywhere and everywhere, I say, and do it often.
Get up from your desk intermittently throughout the day and do a few. When you go to get something from the cupboard, hang out in the bottom position for a few seconds longer than you normally would. While you are answering texts on your phone, or when you are at home watching television, add it in. When you are at the airport, bus stop, or train station, do it there. At the park, while your kids are playing soccer. At the grocery store when you are getting something from the bottom shelf. While you are working on your laptop.
There are tons of places you CAN do it. Get creative.
But what if you can’t do a full depth squat? What if you are just not there yet? There are also lots of simple ways to progress to this point. Hold onto a post or something and use it to help with balance, and to help you get lower gradually. Keep your fingers light. Use as little as possible until you are strong enough to do it without.
By adding bodyweight squats and squat holds to your daily routine, I think you’ll find you’ll feel stronger, more mobile and adaptable to lots of situations. You’ll be able to do things and move in ways that you couldn’t before. If you don’t move well now, it’s never too late to start. To move though, you have to actually move. There’s no way around it.
There you have it: a reasons why I think it’s important to squat everyday for better health. I hope this information helps you on your journey to a healthier, more mobile and injury-free life.
That’s been a word from me (Dr. Chris) – #notyoureverydayortho