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Many people have questions, concerns, or even disbelief that squats and full squatting is a good idea for strengthening and flexibility in the lower body. The full squat position is actually a perfectly normal position for humans to be in. If you don’t believe me, look at any child next time they play or observe something at a low level. They squat something like this:
A perfect full squat position; the knees are fully flexed so the back of the thigh rests on the lower leg muscles, and the heels remain on the ground. In Western culture we sit so often that our ankles, knees and backs are inflexible and tight. But there are numerous benefits to full squatting if you perform them properly and are uninjured.
a) Full squats greatly improve ankle mobility. When heels stay on floor the ankles flex and the calves and Achilles must stretch.
b) Full squats can help alleviate back pain by creating space between vertebrae which decompress spinal discs. *body weight only, no added weight*
c) Hips become stronger when doing full squats, as they require the hip to rotate externally and abduct.
d) Full squats strengthen the glute muscles the most effectively. This is due to the fact that the glute muscles are targeted fully only after lowering below 90°.
e) Posture is improved due to above 4 points, which makes us look, feel, and move better.
Interested in trying a full squat?
The most common limiter for performing a good full squat is limited ankle mobility and calf/Achilles tightness. Stretching these areas may be a great first step.
Try this stretch: Stand at a wall or a chair with one leg in front of the other and bend the front knee until you feel a stretch in the back lower calf.
Then try using a pole or wall to help keep you upright as you lower down into a squat.