If I was forced to choose one exercise to perform on a daily basis for all six billion people on this Earth, the squat would be it.
The Purpose of The Squat
1. Functionally (makes you better): translates to sitting and using the toilet.
2. Muscles (which muscles does it train): works on the butt, hamstrings, quadriceps, and adductor magnus. The glutes and hamstrings, known together as part of the posterior chain, often get “turned off” from a sedentary lifestyle. Also trains the core in it’s locked, neutral posture, which is a healthier way to train the core as opposed to sit-ups.
Feet are shoulder width.
Toes turned slightly out to about 11 and 1 on the face of a clock.
Bring tension to your entire core, including stomach, sides, and low back. Do this properly by pretending like I am going to punch you in the stomach through the computer screen and you want to protect your organs. DO NOT BRING YOUR BELLY BUTTON IN CLOSE TO THE SPINE.
Begin by pushing the hips back and down as if reaching for a chair that is behind you, not straight down.
Keep the knees pushed out over the toes. DO NOT LET THEM CAVE IN TOWARD THE MIDLINE OF YOUR BODY.
Go as low as you are comfortable, knowing that you can get back up.
Keep your body weight over your heels, stabbing them into the ground, especially pushing back up to standing.
The Big Picture
There will be some healthcare professionals or trainers who will tell you not to squat if you have a bad knee or bad hip.
My thoughts are … unless you’re going to get a medical bag to go to the bathroom in, squatting is a necessary life movement.
If you don’t use it, you lose it.
Get started. If you haven’t done any in a while, my recommendation is to start with a quota of 10 squats per day and increase the repetition number by 3 every few days.
Any questions on pain in specific places, discomfort, injuries you’re working around, please feel free to ask.
Dr. Christopher Stepien is a chiropractor, chronic pain specialist, and A.R.T. provider, and clinic director of the Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic in Morristown, NJ. He practices out of Crossfit Morristown.