Learn­ing to squat might be the most im­por­tant thing you can do for your fit­ness and well­ness. It’s a life changer.

Men's Health (Malaysia) - - Fitness -

heels off the floor or slump for­ward. If you couldn’t drop your butt to just a few inches above the ground, you just dis­cov­ered your prob­lem.

“Sit­ting in a squat po­si­tion is the most nat­u­ral move­ment for the body,” says Roop Si­hota, a Bay Area phys­i­cal ther­a­pist. That’s be­cause the joints and mus­cles you need for squat­ting – hips, knees, an­kles, core, quads, glutes, and more – are your pow­er­houses for ev­ery­thing from walk­ing and run­ning to swing­ing a golf club and gar­den­ing. If you can’t squat prop­erly, your joints are prob­a­bly too stiff and your mus­cles too tight. That causes you to lose your abil­ity to move prop­erly, which in turn af­fects del­i­cate ar­eas such as your knees and back. The re­sult? Po­ten­tial pain and in­jury, and de­creased range of mo­tion over the long haul. That’s why learn­ing to squat might be the most im­por­tant thing you can do for your fit­ness and well­ness. phe­nom­e­non quite ef­fec­tively.

In a chair sit­ting po­si­tion, your hip and an­kle mus­cles shorten and your sta­bil­is­ing core mus­cles turn off be­cause the chair sup­ports your body. Over time, your hips and an­kles tighten while the core ar­eas weaken, ex­plains Doug Kechi­jian, a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist with Re­silient PT in New York City. Tight, weak mus­cles are a recipe for pain, in­jury and com­pro­mised per­for­mance. But when we spend a greater amount of time squat­ting, our hips and an­kles don’t be­come tight or weak.

When a mus­cle be­comes overly tight, your brain may sense the area as threat­ened and send pain there as a way to en­tice you to move, Kechi­jian says. For ex­am­ple, sci­at­ica – a chronic pain in the ass, lit­er­ally – oc­curs when your hip mus­cles be­come too tight. The rea­son ther­a­pies such as foam rolling and stretch­ing tem­po­rar­ily re­lieve pain is that they re­duce some ten­sion. Learn­ing to squat cor­rectly means you’ll loosen th­ese mus­cles for good and ban­ish your pain.

Per­form­ing nearly any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity on tight and weak mus­cles is a bad idea. If you run on im­mo­bile an­kles and tight hips, you risk ham­string or knee in­juries be­cause power and im­pact shifts to the wrong ar­eas, says Marco Sanchez, co-founder of Move­ment as Medicine, a mas­sage and move­ment ther­apy clinic out­side Bos­ton.

When a guy with tight hips and an­kles picks up any­thing from a bar­bell to a bag of mulch, he can’t reach the ground while keep­ing his back straight. So his spine bends, send­ing the load there. That can cause a disc bulge – and a world of hurt. Nearly ev­ery sport re­quires mo­tion from the hips be­cause your hips give your body ro­ta­tional power. Take golf: if your hips are too tight, driv­ing a ball can lead to back pain be­cause you’re mov­ing from your spine in­stead of your hips.

“An in­abil­ity to squat can lead to pain or in­jury in ev­ery joint in the body,” Si­hota says. In fact, re­search shows that peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas of some de­vel­op­ing coun­tries where the “sit squat” is a com­mon rest­ing po­si­tion have the low­est in­ci­dence of pos­ture-re­lated prob­lems, like lower-back pain.

In your work­outs, a full range of mo­tion in moves such as the bar­bell squat and the dead­lift is im­pos­si­ble if lack of flex­i­bil­ity in your hips and an­kles make it dif­fi­cult for you to drop into a full or deep squat. (And if you do it any­way, you could be vul­ner­a­ble to pain or in­jury, es­pe­cially if you’ve loaded up the weight.) That makes the ex­er­cise less ef­fec­tive be­cause you en­gage fewer mus­cles and keep them un­der ten­sion for less time. The re­sult: you see less re­turns for the same amount of ef­fort.

Learn­ing to squat prop­erly is more than a game changer—it’s a life changer. You’ll no­tice fewer aches and pains. You’ll re­duce your risk of in­jury. You’ll build more mus­cle across your body. Best of all, you’re likely to see your per­for­mance im­prove – run­ning faster, smash­ing a ball far­ther, punch­ing harder – in just about ev­ery ac­tiv­ity you do.

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