Can You Squat?

You probably can’t do it properly and it’s probably a big reason you have pain.

I’m talking about squatting.

Ever watch little kids playing at the park?  They’ll just squat down and hang out for minutes at a time.  Ever tried it yourself?  You probably fall backwards.  If you can balance, you likely can’t get your heels down.

It’s not a special ability unique to kids.  Sitting in chairs isn’t natural.  In fact, in many countries squatting is the norm.

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There has been plenty said about sitting shortening your life.  I won’t go there.  But did you also know back and hip problems are almost nonexistent in countries where people don’t sit much?

If you can’t squat now, you almost certainly CAN regain this ability.  The two reasons people can’t squat are usually:

  • Tight calves/achilles
  • Weak glutes / tight hips

How to squat properly:

  1. Stand in a normal athlete “ready” position with feet slightly wider than shoulders
  2. “Turn on” your butt and legs by exerting a slight external rotation with each foot.  Like you are screwing your feet into the ground outwards
  3. Put arms out front for balance (or hold onto a pole if necessary)
  4. Squat down keeping your upper body upright.  Aim to get the hips below the knees.  It’s ok if the knees are pushed outward as you drop.  They should never come inward
  5. Knees should not hang far out in front of toes.  Keep your weight back

Squatting will be uncomfortable at first but stick with it.  Here’ how to get better:

  • Do it regularly
  • Aim for 10 minutes per day, breaking it up throughout the day.  Five 2 minute sessions is better than one 10 minute session.

You will be surprised how this small time commitment will change your running.  Not only will you protect yourself from back/hip pain down the road, you will likely see an improvement with your running speed as your hips and calves loosen and glutes become more powerful.

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