There are few basic movements in our modern western world that challenge more individuals than a full-depth squat.
Yes, I will see plenty of folks that cannot touch their toes, who cannot steady on one leg, or perhaps not be able to scratch their back. But it is the simple act of squatting fully to the ground, with ones feet flat and fully on it, all while gazing forward and comfortably that tends to evade the vast majority of people that I meet.
It has been called the lost human posture of our modern day, and that is a statement that probably has merit within North America.
The rest of the world, well…as long as they have maintained some level of their native culture then by and large they can squat just fine.
Truly, squatting is as basic a human movement as being able to look up at the sky, walk across the room and scratch your back. Quite literally it is the upright resting posture for a human being, and easy access to this posture is crucial for a comfortable, capable life.
Not to mention regular and easeful bowel movements…and if you have travelled much throughout the world you will have done well to note that we are the weirdos with our oddly high toilet seats.
Not to fear though, as money can buy a simple fix for this… see HERE.
So back to squatting in general…
Besides plenty of people finding themselves unable to get to or past a certain point in a squat, there is a question that I still hear asked far too often…most typically from those that have difficulty with this movement…
“Isn’t squatting that deep hard on your knees?“
The answer, each and every time is…no.
Despite the bad advice and misunderstandings of some, a full depth squat is not hard on your knees. In fact, dropping below parallel is easier on knees than a partial-depth movement. While this may be surprising to some, it is important recognize that the highest forces on your knee joint during a squat occur at 90 degrees, not at full-depth.
As you move past this point and into a full-depth position the pressure of your thigh and calf compressing together actually supports the knee. This occurrence even has a name; the “wrapping effect”. Now if you have a chronically swollen knee it may feel more like the “exploding effect”, and if going to this range is painful then it may be wise to augment some things.
However, all out avoidance is not a good strategy in the short or long term.
This is because your joints, your knees included, need to be moved and loaded throughout their full range in order to simply stay healthy. It is how they gain nutrition, and with that it is good to keep in mind that degeneration of cartilage has been shown to occur due to inactivity not simply rough activity.
What this all translate to is that it does us all well to squat deeply and squat often.
Yes, this is yet another case of use it or lose it.
And, in the case of many folks in our culture they have not used it, and it has been lost.
You know that scene in The Princess Bride where Billy Crystals character emphasizes that The Man in Black is not “all dead”… just “mostly dead”?*
That is what is going on with most folks ability to drop into a full squat, comfortably and easily.
It is not totally lost… the movement just needs some oil, elbow grease and a tune up.
Well if you have read this far then I can only assume that you perhaps struggle with being able to squat fully and comfortably yourself. And, I can only assume that you would love some insights on how to help this problem. If that is indeed you, then click on either or both of the links below. The first link will take you a video where I map out some basic and typically very effective basic strategies to help you get a better anchor to the ground while squatting. The second link will take you to a video where I map out more advanced strategies that are simple at times very necessary to help folks navigate that full depth.
If you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you are comfortable, able and well.