Most times, when I try to introduce a squat to someone who could benefit from more strength, better balance, and improved function (i.e. nearly everyone), there is an audible groan or sigh at first. A lot of people have had some negative experiences with squats or fitness in general, and by the time people get to an office like ours, they’re not usually in their best shape or condition. There’s no doubt about it, squats can be very challenging. On the other hand, they also have so much to offer us in terms of benefit. The squat uses nearly every muscle group and joint from your low back to your toes in the way they were built to be used. This gives us the opportunity to change and adapt all of these tissues in a fraction of the time it would take to perform a dozen or more isolated exercises and has the added benefit of being instantly translatable to life and sport and activity in general.
The squat can be overwhelming for some people, particularly with all of the potentially conflicting information that exists online. Really though, it can be very simple and straightforward. Toddlers are fantastic squatters. Because all they are trying to do is get to whatever interesting thing is on the floor. They’re not thinking about their knees or their heels, the position of their head or their hips. And they are very, very good at it.
Now, this isn’t just for the young or fit. Any age group is appropriate for some version of a squat, particularly if they are interested in things like walking, standing, stairs, or changing postures throughout the day. One of the most wonderful things about the squat is that it can be modified to nearly any difficulty or fitness level and then can be progressed at a gradual pace to allow for further strength and adaptations to occur. Without even touching a weight or going to a formal gym, people can achieve benefits that will translate into their everyday lives.
One of the best parts is that it doesn’t even take a lot of time or initial investment to get started. Over a long enough time period, doing appropriate squats even 2-3x/week can develop muscles and bones. Sometimes finding the appropriate difficulty is the hardest part, but that’s where a whole group of professionals would love to help. Whether it be you personal trainer, physiotherapist, or physician who has a particular interest in sport or strength, there are a lot of options to get you started.
Personally, I enjoy showing people how approachable movements like this can be, and revel in the success that people can enjoy once they feel confident in their own bodies. If anyone has questions about the squats, its variations, or exercise in general, please feel free to contact the office by phone or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Trent, PT