Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that I have found to be very helpful in restoring the capacity to get up from a seated position is the Squat.
Squats prepare us to get up out of a chair, into the car, and up from the floor. These are daily tasks often taken for granted until they can no longer be done with ease. The ability to squat down deep, remain there for some time, and get back up creates functional carryover to real life activities. I recommend a mixture of three different squat variations. Pick one variation to include in your training every day. Watch the video and give all three a try.
1) Box Squats: Set up with a box behind you and slowly lower yourself onto the box with control. Once on the box, sit and relax completely before re-engaging the legs and standing back up. To maintain complete control of the movement all the way into the seated position, start with a tall enough box. Increase the difficulty by lowering the box height or adding a load. A 12”-14” box should be the goal for most people.
2) Deep Breathing Paused Squats: Find a stance that allows you to squat down as low as possible without your heels coming off the ground or your tailbone tucking under. Some individuals may need a wider or narrower stance. You may also need to play with the angle of your toes. Squat down to your lowest point (maintaining pelvic control and heel contact), take 2-5 deep breaths into your abdomen, and stand up. These are best done for sets of 3-5 reps for 2-5 total sets. To increase the challenge, external load can be added. Just remember that the goal is depth. If the increased load causes your range of motion to shorten, you’ve gone too heavy.
3) Split Squats: Assume a split stance, and lower your back knee down to the ground with control. Extend the legs and return to the standing position. You may find yourself in this position when picking something up off the floor or doing yard work. Add weight to this movement as you are able. You can also elevate the front or rear leg to increase the range of motion.
View video of squat variations: https://youtu.be/4gormcwHr5A
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1