One of the most common movement patterns we perform at ALL ages is the humble squat! Whether it be a toddler squatting down to play with their toy on the ground, a teenager ‘squatting’ in the gym or an elderly person getting off their chair- squat patterns are everywhere.
Primarily a squat strengthens our lower body, core and spine, whilst also providing stability through these areas. Squats also improve our mobility! The squat is a multi joint exercise that provides an overall aerobic benefit if performed in reps. It also assists in injury prevention and management and can lead to better gait mechanics if progressed to single leg work. The following introduction from a great research article really sums up the role of a squat. The squat is a widely used exercise that activates the largest, most powerful muscles in the body and may be the greatest test of lower-body strength. The major muscles involved are the quadriceps, hamstrings, gastrocnemius and the gluteus maximus. The squat also relies on muscle activity at both the hip and ankle joints and recruits the abdominals and spinal erectors as well.
The purpose of the squat is to train the muscles around the knees and hip joints, as well as to develop strength in the lower back, for execution of the basic skills required in many sporting events and activities of daily living. Because most activities of daily living require the coordinated contraction of several muscle groups at once, squatting (a multijoint movement) is one of the few strength training exercises that is able to effectively recruit multiple muscle groups in a single movement. Squats are considered one of the most functional and efficient weight-bearing exercises, whether an individual's goals are sport specific or are for an increased quality of life.
In order to maintain independence, mobility, strength and stability it’s extremely important to have a safe yet stable squat pattern. There are many ‘patterns’ one can follow but for the purpose of this article we will discuss a simple sit to stand based squat, as it the most common one we would prescribe.
HOW TO DO A BASIC SQUAT
First sit on a chair, good posture and close to the edge.
Position yourself with toes aiming outwards and knee slightly wider than hips.
Maintaining good upright posture, stand up to a normal posture.
From here, steady and slowly, control back down to the starting position
Congratulations you just did a squat! Now this is a very basic, yet relatable version of a squat pattern and can be regressed or progressed a thousand different ways. You can change the prescription depending on your goals and current levels. If you would like more guidance on squats, or in fact exercise prescription as a whole, please feel free to contact our team of accredited exercise physiologists on the Sunshine Coast, Coolloola Coast and Brisbane.