The squat is a fundamental movement that everyone on the planet has the ability to do with tremendous form. Or at least at some point in their life HAD the ability to do with tremendous form. Due to how our society operates as a whole, most often, people lose the ability to squat with proper form as a result of sitting for long periods of time, whether it is for school or for work.
It reveals details about the body ranging from ankle, hip, mid back, and shoulder mobility, as well as low back and knee stability. With patients that have pain, the squat is fantastic at identifying certain structures that may be a causative factor to your patient’s pain. It is an amazing rehab tool as well.
Depending on the diagnosis, the squat can be used to reduce the occurrence and severity of low back pain. Just about every patient that walks into my office with low back pain inevitably will be doing squats as part of treatment and ideally, as home care. Whether the patient is experiencing acute localized low back pain, radiculopathy, sciatica, discogenic pain, hip pain, SI joint dysfunction, etc., the squat will be utilized at some point in time. Even cases where patients have knee pain, the squat can come into play.
The squat may be a very shallow to start and gradually deepen over time. Again, depending on the diagnosis, severity of pain, and most importantly, the patient’s ability to adapt to the movement, we will work within the patient’s comfortable range of motion, eventually increasing depth over time.
The overhead squat tells us even more about the body. Having the arms stretched overhead while squatting gives us information about the mobility of the mid back and the glenohumeral joint. If a patient has very tight lats, they may not be able to maintain arm position when descending into the squat. If they lack thoracic mobility, they may “dump forward” and their weight may be pushed forward onto the toes.
As you can see, there is a ton of information that can be gleaned from the squat as an assessment tool. And the fact it doubles as a rehab tool is a huge bonus.