We all know movement and exercise helps to keeps us fit and healthy and keep pain and injury at bay. When done correctly simple squats are a great exercise for most people, but if done incorrectly they can have the potential to cause or provoke injury which we have seen many times!
For most fit and healthy people squats are a great all-round exercise that can work many major muscle groups including your core muscles and generally benefit a lot of people. You don’t have to be young, super fit or already have strength to do them. They can pretty much be done anywhere without too much fancy equipment.
So what are the benefits of doing squats?
Squats can strengthen and tone your legs
Squats use your quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, which helps to tone and strengthen the legs. Moving slowly through the squat can make it a much more intense and effective exercise.
Squats can give you a better butt (and who doesn’t want that!)
Doing squats gives the glutes a good workout, helping to strengthen and tighten your glute muscles.
Squats can give you a total body workout
Doing squats with slowly increasing weights in your hands or above your head can engage the muscles of the upper body giving you a full body workout in one exercise.
Squats can strengthen your Core
When done correctly squats can engage your core muscles. Abdominal and back muscles are needed to keep balance during the movement.
Squats can improve your balance and co-ordination
By strengthening muscles and core muscle activation, you may wobble at first …. but the more you practice the better you’ll get
Squats can increase and maintain bone density
weight bearing exercises are excellent and increasing and maintaing bone density
When done properly squats increases joint flexibility in the ankles, knees, hips and lower back are all being used. Upper
SO what are the tips for doing a perfect squat so i don’t hurt myself?
It’s especially important to maintain good technique doing squats especially when using weights. Always follow the steps below. Ask your Osteopath if squats are something that you may benefit from and ask them to go through the movement with you to make sure you are doing them correctly. Seek their advice on if, when and how much weight to add to doing squats to get the best outcomes for you. Doing squats in-front of a mirror can be especially useful to keep and eye on your technique.
Here are the basic tips for good squats.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart.
- Tighten and engage your abdominal muscles.
- Lower your body dropping your bottom and bending your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep the motion slow and steady.
- Stop when your legs are parallel with the ground.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds.
- Now slowly press back up keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Repeat the exercise for a total of 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
- Be sure to rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Once you’re good at doing squats (with no shaky wobble), you can increase the difficulty and effectiveness of the exercise by doing it with weights.
Try holding hand weights in each hand at shoulder level or use a bar across your shoulders, (at the gym you’ll usually see people doing it like this in the ‘smith machine’). You can also just hold one weight (with both hands) or a medicine ball in front of you while you do the squat.