It’s time to sit like a kid again, grown-ups.
Welcome to the squat challenge. Before you run away, this isn’t about doing 10-15 reps or holding weights or working that booty. This is a different kind of squat. The RESTING squat.
Resting. My favourite word.
Picture a child bending down to examine a trail of ants, squatting down with their bum resting on their heels. Or an old man in China or Southeast Asia, squatting comfortably while he eats his dinner. Or a catcher in a baseball game, squatting for long stints behind the home plate.
I would’ve thought this position was bad for your knees or something, because it looks as much. Turns out I was wrong (rare, but true) – it’s actually really good for your joints.
Watch video: The Mamamia team’s most embarrassing gym moments. (Post continues after video.)
In fact, it’s about to become the new fitness craze.
You know how stand-up desks have become a thing? Next up: squat desks. Well, maybe not just yet. But you may see your fit friends posting resting-squat-selfies in the next few months. #squelfie…
“The human body was not designed to be sedentary. A significant cause of stiffness in hips, knees and ankles is due to sitting in chairs,” says Corinne Golshevsky, a physiotherapist and Pilates teacher at Core Physio + Pilates in Melbourne.
“Daily squatting can improve mobility and stability in these areas as well as improving mid back (thoracic) spinal mobility... Our ancestors rested in a deep squat, why don’t we?”
Considering my hips and ankles have become so stiff lately that I can feel cold weather coming (move over, Nan, I need your walker) I thought I should give it a try.
I followed the advice - remove shoes, find the comfiest squat possible, use a couple of blocks or books under each heel if your ankles are too stiff to be flat-footed, then try to relax as much as possible.
The first attempt, I made it for about 30 seconds.
According to the pros, that's a sure sign I'm getting stiff in my late-20s old age. Too much desk-sitting, not enough toddler-squatting.
But I kept at it. Slowly increasing my time over a few weeks, every day, and I'm now at 10 minutes each night while I watch TV, with only a slight lift under my heel. (Post continues after gallery.)
My hips feel more open all day, my ankles are more stable, and I always get a great stretch in my lower back.
The trick is to relax in the position as much as possible. Don't try to keep a rigid straight back; just find whatever feels comfortable in a relatively upright position. It's a REST pose. Think of a toddler - weight on heels, knees tracking over toes, head in neutral position.
"Ultimately the aim is to incorporate a deep squat as part of daily function," says Golshevsky.
"Squat to look through a lower drawer, chat to your kids at their height... Find comfort in a squat for short periods throughout your day."
If you can survive the first 30 seconds, that is...
Nailed it. Image: iStock
Here's my tips:
- REST as much as possible in the squat, finding the comfiest position possible for you, even if it means you have a huge stack of books under your heels.
- Start in front of a table leg or similar, in case you are falling backwards a lot. You will get more stable with practice.
- Bring your phone. Distract yourself on Facebook as much as possible in that time. Send some emails. Watch TV. Let the time fly past.
- Don't do it in skinny jeans. Duh.
And importantly, a good warning from Golshevsky: "Those with pre-existing injuries may require guidance by a physiotherapist or movement practitioner. These individuals would benefit from specific modifications and feedback regarding overall posture, lower limb alignment and bony rhythms."
Good luck, friends. Prepare for an adventure to better mobility and stability. You can do it. You squat this.
Featured image: Supplied/iStock.