Like walking, squatting is a fundamental human movement that our bodies depend on to work their best.
Squatting well is fantastic for pelvic floor length and strength. Having a strong squatting practice is ideal preparation for a natural birth, if that’s on your list of goals. And building a gentle squatting practice can help heal pelvic floor issues and build strong and functional glutes.
Squatting also uses many major joints in a full range of motion. This means that squatting both requires and can improve joint health and mobility throughout our body. When we move a joint, we also move the cells and tissues that surround that joint – so using a full range of motion means giving healthful loads to more of our cells, more of the time.
Most modern humans have a hard time actually using our hip joints – the largest joints in the body – thanks to our many years of sitting in chairs. We compensate for our lack of hip mobility by using other joints – typically our spines.
There are also epidemics of back pain and hip replacements among our population.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t a coincidence. Restoring our hips to be strong, mobile and functional only makes sense. Squatting and squat prep is a big piece of this puzzle!
What Do I Need For A Great Squat?
To squat well, our ankles, knees and hips need a lot of mobility, and we need spinal mobility as well. We also need length and strength in our back line muscles – glutes, hamstrings and calves. Good prep exercises for squatting will help you gain the following prerequisites so you can have a sustainable squat:
- Length through the tissues in the backs of your legs, including calves and hamstrings
- Ability to flex deeply in the hips, knees and ankles
- Hip flexors that yield when shortened
- Rotational mobility in your knees
- Stability in your deep hip rotators so that knees and ankles don’t collapse inwards
- Intrinsic foot muscle strength
- Ability to use your glutes and hamstrings (and not the fronts of the thighs) to get in and out of your squats
- A solid understanding of how to untuck your pelvis and the ability to use the untuck motion to lift out of a squat
- Thoracic spine (upper back) mobility
Even if you never achieve a comfortable deep resting squat with full mobility, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of squatting by working on gentle prep exercises, unloaded squats and smaller squats that meet you where you’re at. Using simple bolstering (such as a rolled up towel under your heels) can also help you get into a really functional, helpful squat without overloading anything,
What Should I Avoid In Squatting?
After years of living in chairs and sofas, many of us have limited range of motion in our hips, knees and ankles. That makes it hard to squat well or comfortably.
When we try to squat before we have enough range of motion, we can put a lot of pressure on our joints and our pelvic floors. So it’s much more helpful to gently improve our joint mobility and practice safe squat prep exercises like the ones I teach in my Take10 coaching program than to try to force our way into a full squat and hope for the best.
Take it slowly and work on the basics first – if wellness is the goal, there’s never a point in forcing anything!
Get Started Now!
Grab lots of free squat resources in the side bar, or go deeper with one of my courses, like my Take10 Movement Coaching program where I teach squatting from the ground up, or my Joints For Life mobility course to start unlocking those hips, knees and ankles.
Courses For An Awesome Squat
Take10 Online Movement Coaching
Get stronger, more mobile and learn how to move better so your body can work better and feel better, in bite sized chunks.
Joints For Life Mobility Course
Bulletproof your joints with this simple but powerful daily practice.
Build A Better Pelvic Floor...Coming Soon
Be the first to know when I release the online version of my popular pelvic floor workshop. You'll get a step-by-step road map to resolving pelvic floor issues, and in-depth tutorials for the most effective pelvic floor exercises and movement habits.
More Squatting Resources
Squats Are For Every Body (Blog Post)
Single Legged Squats (YouTube)
Getting Out Of A Chair Using Your Squatting Muscles (YouTube)
Stronger Feet And Better Squats (YouTube)
Release Your Psoas – Happier Core, Pelvic Floor and Spine (YouTube)
Sign up for my newsletter
Get tips, news, updates from our travels and lots of free goodies!