The most important exercise to get right is the squat and that is why I use this exercise so much when I`m putting together training plans or working out sessions for my boot camps.
Being able to squat was once just part of normal life and tribe members would often sit in a low squat position to eat or when they were at important tribal gatherings.
Things started to change when industrialisation meant that we became more reliant on chairs and footwear and our basic physiology evolved to adapt to long periods spent sitting at a desk or driving and spending all day wearing shoes.
Being able to do a full squat will give you many benefits and keep you pain free if done correctly.
Lower back pain will be improved by doing squats as most people will have an excessive curvature in their low back as a result of the pelvis being pulled down in the front by tight hip flexor muscles.
During a full depth squat, the pelvis rotates backward, allowing the spine to elongate.
This stretches the tight or shortened muscles in the low back.
The body’s position in a deep squat also produces a traction effect that decompresses the spine by creating space between the individual segments of the back.
Tension in the lower leg will decrease and ankle mobility will greatly improve through doing deep squats as range of motion of the ankle is a common problem linked to a number of other issues in the body, including bad posture, and runner’s knee.
A loss of ankle mobility is caused by both inflexibility in the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, and stiffness in the joint.
The key to squatting correctly is to get the biggest muscles in the body working properly.
They are the gluteus maximus (or glutes).
These muscles become lazy through inactivity and sitting, which we all tend to do too much.
Then other muscles try to take over their job of stab-ilising the trunk and leg.
This can have a knock-on effect often causing tension and pain in the hamstrings (back of the upper leg) and lower back.
If we work on strengthening these muscles and getting them working properly, then back pain and tension will be greatly reduced.
Another bonus is that you’ll also have a lovely firm backside!
If you are unfamiliar with how to squat properly, the best and safest way to start is with a wall squat.
Here you have your back to a wall and use that for support as you go down into the squat position in a safe manner.
Once you have mastered that position you are ready to move on to squatting without the wall.
But always remember to keep the heels in contact with the floor as you lower the body into position.
Spending time in a squat position offers many health benefits and can serve as a way to correct postural imbalances.
Squatting is a safe activity when performed properly but you need to be careful if you have had any injuries or physical problems.
Someone who is healthy and in relatively good physical shape without a history of knee injuries should be able to squat safely with minimal risk.
Individuals with a history of knee injury need to give consideration to the increased forces placed on the structures of the knee when squatting.
A lack of ankle mobility is usually the limiting factor that would prevent an individual from reaching full depth.
The ability to do a full depth squat is a sign of good physical health so it’s great news if you can do this exercise well.
Nikki Caputa is a health and fitness coach who works one-to-one with clients and runs her own fitness camps where she trains groups.
Known as FAB Body Bootcamps, two are based in Fareham and one is in Portsmouth.
Nikki is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.