Squats are one of the most beneficial exercises for athletes and the general population. Being unable to squat is the number one reason for seniors to move into a nursing home. Whether you are getting up off a toilet, standing from a chair, getting into a car, or picking something up from the floor, you need to properly bend at the hip and knee. Squatting is a fundamental movement for humans. Yet far too many people have the inability to properly squat, and run a high risk of injury to their spine. Take the time to read the fine points here to do a squat, learn to do it daily, and you will remain mobile and active for years! Please ask us if you have any questions with these exercises!
Squats are great as they use a lot of large muscles. When executed with proper form, squats increase the strength of the leg muscles while improving the range of motion of the hip and knee joints, and increase core stability. If performed correctly, squats can help prevent injuries to the low back and promote proper moving mechanics to keeps the knees, hips and ankles working smoothly. It’s important with any exercise to be sure you are using proper technique to avoid an increased likelihood of injury, so be sure to rigorously check your form, and consult your medical practitioner before beginning any new exercise program.
Air squats are the simplest but a great way to get squats in! They can be done anywhere, in the kitchen, at work, even waiting in line. 20 squats done here and there will get you strong and powerful! Always use good posture. Remember your cues: keep your torso upright, hinge from the hips, keep your knees out, drive your heels down and push with your glutes to return to standing.
Chair squats are a great way to teach you proper depth, and the way to engage your hips when squatting. Stand with your back to a chair or bench and perform a squat, remembering to hinge from the hips first and keep the heels planted. When you contact the chair, drive your heels into the ground and use your glutes to return to standing. Holding a weight in front of you allows you to lean back into your squat without losing your balance.
Stand tall facing a wall, with your toes 6-12 inches away from the wall. Try to keep your torso upright, avoid contacting the wall, and sit your hips back into a squat. If this is easy, move yourself a few inches closer to the wall. Standing close to a wall ensures that your upper body is remaining erect as you squat, and prevents you from over bending at the waist. Bending at the back when you squat is the most common way people injure their lumbar spine discs. This is a great way to teach you to avoid that!
In general, remember theses tips when performing squats:
- start with your feet about shoulder width apart, toes facing slightly outwards
- keep your head up and your eyes focused slightly above parallel
- keep your midsection (core) very tight
- begin the squat by hinging the hips back and then down
- make sure your knees track over the line of the feet; your knees should not roll inside your feet
- keep your weight on your heels as much as possible, keep off the balls of your feet
- keep your knees from moving forward as much as possible, make the movement come from your hips
- keep your torso elongated
- don’t let your upper body collapse forward, keep it tight
- don’t fall into the squat, remain in control of the movement at all times
- don’t lose the curve of your spine during the squat, go no lower than you can with good hip and spine alignment
- squeeze your glutes and rise without leaning forward or taking the weight off your heels
- press the ground away from you as you come out of the squat
- put some pressure on the outside of your foot, as if you were trying to spread the ground beneath you
- stand tall to finish the squat
- use your whole body, there should be no inactive muscles during a squat
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