Women AND MEN – SQUAT!
We should all naturally be able to squat. However due to our habits in the western world of sitting on chairs and not on the ground and picking things up by bending over at the waist and not squatting, it can get to the point where it becomes impossible for some of us to squat.
This stiffness combined with weak gluts and tight quads often cause us to take the easy option and avoid squats altogether.
So why squat?
Ok – A question for you….have you ever jumped/ran/skipped and leaked:-)?! Men may not experience this as much as us childbearing women however, how many men have lower back injuries?!?
This is a quick* blog on the importance of one part of our body we tend to forget about until an accident happens – our Pelvic floor and Bum, which is linked to the squat.
We all hear about strengthening our pelvic floor to the max, however those of you in my classes know that letting the pelvic floor relax and go is just as important. The thing is, it is good to maintain length in our pelvic floor, not just shortening/contracting this area all the time.
Just as important or I should say THE most important factor is our ALIGNMENT.
Visualise your skeleton for a moment, your pelvic bowl being the centre of your body. If our skeletal system isn’t in alignment, the muscles surrounding it are more than likely not going to be working evenly either. The pelvic floor is an intricate web of overlapping muscles and a large group of muscles which help support the pelvis are the gluts- you bum muscles! We can not see them and so we tend to forget about them.
If your gluts are weak or one is stronger than the other, this can cause your pelvis and hips to be out of alignment. Of course many other factors may be the cause too for example a tight psoas. I’m focusing on the gluts though as I found this was the one area that weakened a lot for me through pregnancy and is a very common area to lose strength in as we get older. We simply use it to sit in our car, at our desk, on the sofa.
If your gluts are weak this can cause instability in your hips and the pelvis to tilt under. By only strengthening the pelvic floor without your gluts being strong this can further cause the pelvis to tuck under as it pulls on the sacrum. This is the sway back posture that is all too common in pregnancy and post natal as we hang off our back and tuck our pelvis when we carry baby. I see it all the time, and catch myself doing it too! In general, weak gluts can cause this sway back posture to occur.
One of the best movements to strengthen your gluts and prep for birth are Squats! This exercise will help lengthen your pelvic floor, lengthen your lower back and strengthen your gluts when done properly! Please note, if you are pregnant and get pubic pain or have pubic symphysis please seek advise before doing a squat. It may be one to avoid for you.
Some general points to remember:
- Guess what….(I sound like a broken record:-)). Strengthen your gluts- it’s a common area that weakens as we age.
- Become aware of your posture in general throughout your day. Think of your pelvis as an even bowl and not tilting forward or back too much. Supporting from the front using your lower abdominals and the back using your gluts.
- SQUAT to do daily tasks as you pick things up- no more bending over from the waste! It will be hard at first but keep it up & change your habit.
- Notice your pelvic floor activating and releasing. Remember your pelvic floor is made up of many muscles overlapping from you pubic bone to your tailbone and from one hip to the other. It’s a large area- so notice the front AND the back. Can you even notice the sides?
- BREATHE! The Pelvic floor (bowl) works with your diaphragm. Feel your whole waist and spine moving with your breath- the front, the back and sides.
- Finally- work your booty… Notice it activating as you go for your walks, when you pick things up by squatting.
I hope you gained something out of this….if you got to read to the end…. * I never seem to be able to keep things short:-)!!x
Of course, all of our postures and strengths are different depending on what we do. This is a general overview of a simple exercise and the benefits. There will be those of you who will need to do the opposite and release tight gluts which are overactive. The key is knowledge and finding out what is best for you personally.