Being Able To Squat Like a Toddler Has Many Health Benefits—Here’s Why You Want To See How Low You Can Go

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Squats are a standard exercise in most workout routines (especially on leg days), but a deep resting squat? That's not often a go-to, but it should be. "The deep resting squat, or as some people call it, the deep bodyweight squat, is the position where your hips and glutes are below your knees with feet flat resting in a natural resting position without a ton of load on the muscle tissues" explains Joey Thurman, CPT, a certified personal trainer for kuudose, a fitness and wellness community. “It opens up the hips and trunk.”

Children assume this butt-to-the-ground posture naturally as they play and navigate the world. It's also a very common daily movement for adults as we squat down to pick up something heavy or sit on the ground, and it’s a birthing position that may result in less perineal tears. The problem is that as a society, our sedentary lives and high reliance on chairs have taken away many people's ability to do a deep resting squat and reap the many health benefits it affords. 

"The saying, 'if we don't use it, we lose it,' is extremely true in the case of being able to squat like a toddler again," Thurman says. "As we get older, move less, and sit more, our soft tissue gets tight, the spacing between our joints [decreases], and our nervous system gets used to not moving through full ranges of motion."

The benefits of the deep resting squat

One of the benefits of holding deep resting squats is improved mobility, specifically ankle mobility, which Thurman says many people lack, as well as the natural movements we do throughout the day, minimizing pain and risk of injury. "If you are more mobile and your joints move in all directions [like] they are supposed to, the tissue doesn't take as much load and can help you move without pain," Thurman says. “Think of even picking up groceries, your kid, grandkid, and how nice it would be to do it with ease and not worrying about hurting yourself."

The benefits of deep resting squats also carry over into your workouts. For instance, Thurman says, powerlifters would love to get low and drive through an entire motion without pain, which deep resting squats can help with as they strengthen the body's backside. "Deep squats themselves have been shown [to be] even more effective at building that powerful backside over regular squats," Thurman says. And, he adds, they also support pelvis and back health. "Having a stronger pelvic floor and deep spinal muscles such as the spinal erectors will help stabilize the hips and pelvis."

How to do a deep resting squat

To properly do a deep resting squat, Thurman instructs standing with your feet about hip-width apart, and your toes slightly pointed out. Then slowly lower your body, allowing your hips to sink down as if you're about to sit on a very low chair. Try to get as low as you comfortably can, ideally with your butt below your knees. Go slow and avoid overdoing it. This posture shouldn't cause pain in any way. If it does, stop and adjust, and if needed, hold onto something for support. 

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Thurman notes that if you're just getting started with a deep resting squat, going that low may not be possible, and that's okay. The key, he says, is to keep your feet flat on the ground, maintain a flat, neutral spine (meaning, don't hunch over), and ensure your shoulders stay in line with your hips. 

Hold the position for 10 seconds, then stand back up, and repeat six times throughout the day, Thurman says, especially after sitting for long periods. As you get better at it, he suggests increasing each session to 30 seconds or more as long as it feels comfortable. "Who knows, maybe you will start reading books in the deep squat," he says. 

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