Basic movement patterns: The Squat

We are back on the topic of movements today and we are going to start to cover the basic movement patterns.

The human brain is very efficient.

One of its aims is to record and recall movement patterns that make life easier allowing it more capacity to deal with life’s little details.

An example is that your brain learns how to walk and continually refines that pattern in your first few years of life, thereby allowing you to concentrate on everything else you are seeing while you’re walking along as a three year old. During your early years of life your brain records and refines several primary movement patterns that it will need again and again.

These patterns, once ingrained, allow your brain to quickly put them in to action and modify them slightly as the environment dictates. There are seven basic movements the human body can perform and all other exercises are merely variations of these seven: Pull, Push, Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Rotation and Gait.


Fundamentals of the squat

The squat pattern is a key player. It’s a movement pattern that transcends its use in the gym.

It’s used for routine activities and movement requirements of daily living. Everyone is different, therefore, everyone squats differently, especially as it pertains to loading the squat for power, strength, and hypertrophy training. Identifying the proper squat progression is the first step A squat is a movement pattern where you plant both feet on the ground, then bend your legs to lower your body down while keeping your chest up and lower back straight.

We use squats in our daily life such as squatting in and out of a chair. As we age, an inability to squat can very negatively affect our quality of life. A trial, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2014, revealed that people, aged 51 to 80, who could get up from a squat-like position without using their hands, were less likely to die within the next six years than those who couldn’t pull themselves up.

The researchers suggest the results reflect the fact that the movement encourages strength and flexibility that contribute to better health. People who commonly squat when at rest tend to use this position when going to the bathroom – and this, too, has benefits.

“Humans are meant to defecate in a squatting position”, explains Dr Megan Rossi, a dietitian at King’s College London, with an expertise in gut health. It straightens out the bottom of the intestine and anus, allowing for a smooth evacuation without straining.

Another benefit is mobility: Not only will squat training allow you to lift heavy things off the floor, but they make it easier to walk up and down the stairs, get up off of the ground, and perform other vigorous movements that are necessary for daily life.

For example, a study performed on elderly people with osteoarthritis showed that squat training resulted in less self-reported pain in the knees, better balance, and faster walking speed. Participants also had less evidence of chronic inflammation associated with arthritis.

Squats are one of the best exercises for building strength and lean mass in the muscles throughout the hip, thigh, and core areas. Everyone knows that exercise has a protective effect on health and is key for a long life.

What you might not know is that two of the strongest predictors of longevity are strength and muscle mass in the lower body.

Now let’s see we you are at your squatting capacity. Find a confortable place and squat down. Can you perform a full depth squat comfortably? Are you able to “hang out” at the bottom position? Can you stand back up with relative easy from the bottom? Do you feel any pain or tightness?

Until next week.