Why Squat Anyway?

As you get older or are more sedentary after working from home throughout the pandemic, it may seem more difficult to stand up straight after squatting. So what?” you might ask. “What’s the big deal?”

Actually, it IS a big deal, because the movement required to squat is also the movement required to get up from a chair or to bend down to retrieve something from a lower shelf. It’s a movement you’ll want to do throughout your life. In fact, here’s how squats can benefit your body:

  • Overall strength. Each time you squat you get stronger and it makes the movement easier. You’re building a strong foundation for functional movement.
  • Strong legs. When you squat, your legs get a workout, building strength and toning the muscles. Your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings thank you.
  • Core competence. Squats force you to stabilize your core, an area that is essential to balance and to almost any movement you make. This means the entire torso, including the abdominal muscles, the obliques and the lower back.
  • Boosting your bones. As you build strength, you also build lean muscle mass, which supports your bones.
  • Pregnancy preparation. While you’re strengthening your core with squats, you’re also strengthening your pelvic floor which makes delivery easier. For the aging population, it’s also beneficial to controlling urine leakage
  • Jauntier jumps. If you’re a fan of pick-up basketball, you’ll find that strengthening your legs will add more height to your jumps.
  • Power production. Squats can help you produce explosive power, important in jumping and sprinting.
  • Injury prevention. Many injuries are associated with the body’s imbalances and weaknesses. Squats improve hip and knee stability, which can remedy numerous imbalances. It also takes some of the load off your knees and ankles, aiding ankle stability.

What Muscles Do You Use to Stand Up From a Squat?

Although you may not realize it, squats are a full body exercise. It may seem obvious that your abdominal muscles (core) are involved in helping you bend down and return to a stand, along with your glutes (buttocks), quadriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh) and calf muscles. However, numerous other muscles are involved in stabilizing other body parts as your rise, such as your feet, ankles, pelvis, hips and upper body.

Why Do I Struggle to Get Up From the Floor?

Sure, it’s easy to lower your body down to the floor. Getting back up again? That’s another challenge altogether. It’s a common problem, but one that isn’t healthy. It’s an indicator that you have issues with flexibility and/or mobility. Here are some of the possible reasons:

  • Stiff joints. Lack of physical activity or immobility may make your joints stiff. Sitting at a desk all day certainly is a contributing factor. This means working on your mobility.
  • Core crisis. If you feel off balance when you finally do get off the floor, it’s likely due to weak abdominal muscles, the core muscles that help stabilize your body.
  • Weak muscles. If your legs feel weak and you wobble as you come to a stand, it may indicate a lack of overall strength.
  • Nasty knees. If your knees are weak, you may feel as if they are unable to bear your weight.

What Muscles Do I Need to Strengthen to Get Up off the Floor?

If you’re looking to build enough strength and mobility to be able to get off the floor or out of a squatting position easily, your goal should be to do squats without toppling over or finding your knees locked. Your first port of call should be your registered physiotherapist, someone who is trained to identify weaknesses or imbalances in the muscles and joints and help people to remedy them.

Testing Your Mobility:

Meanwhile, here are a few tests you can do at home to see which joints may need some additional flexibility:

  • Can you bend your ankle beyond 20 degrees? While standing, lift the ball of your foot off the floor.
  • Can you flex your hip beyond 90 degrees? While standing, raise you knee toward your chest.
  • Can you bend your knee beyond 90 degrees? While sitting, slide your heel back under your knee.

Once you’ve identified some weaknesses on your own, consult with your physiotherapist about the stretches you should do to begin improving your mobility. They will be able to assess your level of fitness and suggest exercises that are appropriate. As your strength and flexibility improve, they will adjust your exercises accordingly. Before you know it, you’ll be squatting with the best of them!

Is It Hard for You to Stand Up After Squatting?