Featured Exercise of the Month
The exercise featured this February is the squat. The squat is a functional exercise that we do every day! Think about it, every time we sit down, we move into the squatting position and every time we stand up, we finish the squatting movement. If we drop something on the floor and bend down to pick it up or if we need to bend down and tie our shoes, we are squatting (or at least we should be!). I often see people bending over at the waist to pick things up and even to tie their shoes. This puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the small muscles in the lower back and the spine. With that in mind, let’s work to strengthen those legs, knees, ankles and glutes (butt) to ensure we don’t hurt our backs.
Preparation for exercise:
Feet should be shoulder-width apart, pointed straight ahead, and with knees in line with the toes. Lace your fingers together and place your hands in front of you at chest level (like you’re praying).
Movement of exercise:
Slowly begin to squat down, bending knees and flexing hips, keeping feet straight, as if to sit back and down in a chair. Do not allow the knees to move inward nor forward over your toes, and keep the navel drawn in.
Keep your chest up and put pressure through your heels.
Squat to a three-quarter position.
To rise back up, contact glutes (butt) and place pressure through the heels as knees are extended.
Stand up straight until hips and legs are full extended. Avoid compensation in the low back or lower extremities.
Repeat for 5-10 reps.
Note: As you progress you can increase the number of reps working up to 20 with your own body weight. From there you can reduce the number of reps and introduce external weight like dumbbells, a barbell, etc. Reach out to me for help!
If this version of the exercise is too difficult for you to perform, a regression option is:
Perform the squat as indicated above but put a stability ball behind your back. Start with the ball near your low back/glute area, as you squat down the ball will move up your back for added support. Keep your spine straight and your navel drawn in.
As always, be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Check back next month for more bits & tips on exercise and fitness!