How deep can you squat?
Squatting is the key to longevity
photo by the author made with Canva I landed in Phuket, Thailand, in March 2020 just before the Covid international lockdown. At that time in my life, I was beginning to change the way I was thinking about training. I was focusing more on mobility. Mobility is the combination of flexibility and strength. Being mobile is being able to move with control in the whole range of motion of your joints. I was amazed by Thai people who were deep squatting everywhere, in the street, at home, cooking, washing clothes, whatever the activity, they were squatting using the ground as support, instead of sitting on a chair with a table as support. It seemed so natural. Deep squatting with our heels on the ground is something that we all do from childhood. The only difference between Thai people and Westerners is that they kept doing it. On the contrary, westerners tend to stop squatting to have more “comfort” on a chair. “If you don't use it, you lose it”- Ido Portal
The chair and the lack of movement is killing us Sitting on a chair is not allowing us to use the full range of motion our articulations have. Over time, our articulations adapt and become usable only to the extent we normally use them. As a consequence, most westerners are not able to go into the deep squatting position anymore. We have tight hips, tight ankles, and tight knees. And this is going worse as we age.
We think that losing mobility is normal when we are getting old. I would like to say it’s not. Mobility can improve at any age I have seen 70-year-old people deep squatting in Thailand without any effort. If they can do it, so can we. The lack of mobility is not a fatality and is reversible at any age. Our body has an amazing capacity to adapt. This capacity works for us and also against us. Indeed, if we stop stimulating our body by being too much sedentary, our muscles are shrinking, losing elasticity and strength. On the other side, if we resume or start a regular movement practice, our body will adapt fast, especially in the beginning and progress will be there. It is possible at any age, all we need is to progressively stress our muscles. Let’s squat again! Squatting is such a basic movement. It should be a resting position. It is working on three joints simultaneously: our hips, knees, and ankles. Squatting is so beneficial in everyday life, to allow us to keep control of our bodies and stay independent. Legs muscles are the biggest of the body, stimulating them results in muscular maintenance at least, or even muscular growth, depending on the intensity. It maintains or increases the metabolism. It brings hormonal balance to the body. To improve our ability to squat, the best thing to do is to … Squat. Yes I know, there is no magic formula. When you want to become better at something, you have to train it over and over again in a progressive way. To regain our ability to squat we have to engage daily in squatting to the maximum range of motion currently available, even if the movement is not perfect, or if our heels are not on the ground. It will improve with time and regular practice. Consistency is key. This can be an example of daily practice: throughout the day, you can do sets of squatting with a number of repetition that makes you feel you are doing something, but that does not leave you powerless. Trying to go as deep as possible is important. At the end of your set of repetitions, you can hold the deep squat position and stay there as long as it’s not too uncomfortable for you. The idea is to accumulate time in this position and increase it over time. Every week, you can challenge yourself and increase the volume of repetitions, the volume of sets, and the total time holding the deep squat. You will be amazed by the results. So… Do you want to stay healthy, functional, capable, and independent as you age, for you and your family? Well then, you know what to do now.
PS: If you like my work, you can receive it in your mailbox every time I publish a new post. I’m sharing my life experience with you in the hope that It will add value to your life and inspire you to grow. Thank you for reading. Quotations and claims are derived from my experience unless specified otherwise. My views and opinions on topics are not intended to replace yours but are offered to broaden your perspective of life.