The ability to drop your butt low to the ground like an infant while they play with their toys is a skill worth maintaining throughout life.
It doesn’t have a be the first thing you think about upon waking in the morning, but you should consider it regularly.
On my Facebook page yesterday, I posted about the need to work on your ability to lift heavy objects from a resting position on the ground surface to a vertical locked out position. The backside muscles of the body, particularly the butt and hamstring muscles tend to become long and weak as we continue to sit throughout life.
This can cause a whole host of problems down the road, especially when people attempt grunt lift an awkward object and feel that horrible pop in their lower back. Instant nagging back pain and a lifetime of fighting off the chronic pain of an injury like that. Back pain is the worst.
I won’t say that a back injury like that is completely avoidable, but I think that really smart guys like Gray Cook (among others) have started to put together the puzzle pieces aid in solving this riddle. Injuries like this seem to be highly preventable, or at least there are daily drills that we can perform to help bulletproof out bodies against unnecessary injuries.
One of the patterns that people need to be assessing on themselves initially is the ability to squat deep. Yes, a simple squat that exhibits the ability to drop your butt low with a somewhat vertical upper body posture. I say somewhat because being completely upright with your upper body isn’t completely necessary, however being bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame is also undesirable.
Flat back. We’ll say a mostly vertical flat back is how I want your upper body to be situated, with shoulder blades tucked down and back. Eyes forward.
A few years ago…
… I used simple cues with my hockey athletes get them into position verbally without getting hands on. One of those cues was, “Show me your logo on your shirt”. Once they had reached an end range of motion in their squat (whatever depth that was), I simply requested to see their logo on their t-shirt. For most, this brought the chest up, shoulders back.
The athletes that struggled to execute or maintain this position once I cued it gave me valuable information (without words) that “something” was preventing them from achieving a comfortable squat.
Who cares about hockey players, what does this mean for me? Me? Me?
The ability for the average person to execute a simple bodyweight squat is important.
Maybe the better statement is:
The inability of a person to execute a proper bodyweight squat might be reason for some concern.
Can you squat? How deep? Test it on yourself right now using this starting position:
1) Get barefoot w/ toes pointing forward.
2) Position feet shoulder width apart ( or maybe a inside of feet just outside of shoulder width).
3) Place hands together at chest height in prayer position or behind head prisoner style.
4) Squat. (don’t over think this… just squat)
* If you don’t know what a squat looks like, Google or YouTube it.
Elaborating on your self-assessment…
– How did it feel?
– How low did you get (depth)?
– Did you upper body fold over at any point as you got lower to the ground?
– Did you knees cave in? Wobble?
– Did you heels lift off of the floor as you got deeper into the squat?
– Did you feel a “locking” sensation in your mid-back?
*** Was your breathing labored or did you hold your breath at any point during the motion?
Ask yourself these simple questions. I get tired of complicated advice, and I think this is about as simple as I can make it for you.
If you can, squat in front of a mirror or use your smartphone to video yourself. Visual feedback is the greatest. If you use your smartphone, you many want to delete it shortly afterward to avoid any sort of questioning or embarrassment from friends or family.
In a weird way, it’s cool to identify problems with your squat, or any other movement (raising arms, turning head). Problems mean that I can dish out some simple solutions (saved for a later post) and also that you may have saved yourself from experiencing something tragic injury-wise. Uncovering faulty movement also gives you something to focus on during your workouts.
In recent years, the workout has evolved tremendously. It’s not just about exerting yourself and putting forth a big effort to lose some fat. Professionals are throwing out solutions to help people move better, which helps maintain a pain-free life of movement. This is priceless.
And don’t worry, poor squatting technique can be fixed.
In my own training…
I work on the squat pattern almost daily. My mobility is pretty solid, but as you may or may not see in the video demonstration, when my left arm extends overhead, I strain a bit. Something funky is going on here. This isn’t just random stiffness that I should ignore.
Trust me, I am working on fixing it, but it is important for me to point out movement flaws that I have so that:
A) You know that we are ALL human and this stuff happens (no one is immortal).
B) You can grab on to some tips or tricks on how I fixed my own issues in order to fix yours.
Bottomline: Pay attention to you ability to squat, it will pay you back tenfold throughout life.
Cheers on a cold day in Wisconsin…