The squat is a basic movement pattern, one that our bodies is designed to do. It is also one of the most used movements we do in everyday life, take sitting to standing for instance. Every time you do this you are essentially squatting, the same goes for the toilet (women and children particularly). However, today’s habits have interfered slightly with how effective our bodies are at doing these. That squat getting up from a chair – do you need to use your hands, can squat all the way down and sit comfortably there? Look at most babies and toddlers who adopt the beautiful squat position to play in. Our hips, ankles and knees have the potential for us to be in that position, it’s just we don’t practise it enough anymore.
But why would we want to be there in the first place? Well let’s look at squatting and toilet habits next. If you have a look at some cultures, they still adopt the squat position for doing their business. I remember being in Turkey a few years ago and going to use the public toilet, only to find it was a little like the bottom of a walk-in shower. No toilet seat here! Our bodies are better able to rid itself of waste in the squat position. When our hips and pelvis is placed in that position, it allows certain muscles (puborectalis) in the sphincter, to open and relax fully, allowing the poo to come out easier. The bladder is also in a better place to empty properly too, meaning we shouldn’t need to rush back in 5 minutes to ‘finish off’ – ladies hovering over the toilet!
Secondly childbirth. In an ideal world this is one of the most effective positions to birth. We are upright, allowing gravity to assist us and the pelvis is in a good position for the baby to pass through the birth canal. However, this may not be practice for a lot of reasons, including medically, and is certainly a position that may need to be practised beforehand!
So why don’t we deep squat? For many they simply can’t. Years spent in seats and not practising this position means we are simply not conditioned to get there. Our bodies certainly have the potential to be there, but lack of flexibility and endurance limits us. And then there are those with injuries and bodily structures who are just not meant to go there. But what if you do? I would first of all look and see what muscles might be restricting you from getting down there- calves, ankles, hamstrings, low back etc. From there start stretching and lengthening them. Practise trying to get a little lower in your squat- bodyweight is fine. Build up slowly and listen to your body, if it starts to complain, back off, and try again later.
As for the toilet the Squatty Potty has been designed to get those knees over the hips. Household items such as toilet rolls and books are also useful as is the stool/step you might use for your toddler!