Squatting is a fundamental human movement that we should all be able to do daily well into our last few years. We are all born with perfect mobility, but lose this over time due to our reliance on chairs and too much sitting. Don't believe me? Look at a toddler squat. Most, without knowing, will hinge at the hips, sit back with a neutral spine and toes pointing forward. They don't have to be taught, but it seems as we grow up we need to be re-taught. Don't worry if you can't get into a deep squat just yet, I'll soon have a post on dealing with mobility, but today let's look at the benefits
The deep squat is a perfect way to maintain hip and knee mobility. Hemmerich et al 2006, found that hip flexion of roughly 130* and knee flexion of 165* is needed to maintain adequate flexibility for the activities of daily living. Practising the deep squat daily ensures that you keep your hips and knees this flexible
Deep squats are also key to keeping your knees healthy. Deep squats aren’t bad for knees contrary to popular belief. Salem et al 2001, showed no difference in stress or force on the knees between squat depths of 70, 90, or 110 degrees. Li et al 2004, then found that deep squats elicited a protective effect on the PCL and ACL, due to the compression of the tissues between the tibia and femur
Deep squatting will also lead to increased activation of the glutes and hip musculature and hypertrophy of these muscles. And ultimately improved functionality and athletic performance, with squat depth being positively correlated with vertical jump height (Weiss L, et al. 2000, Caterisano A, et al. 2002, Matuschek C, et al. 2012)
As you can see the benefits of daily squats are crazy. If you, like 95% of the western world, spend upwards of 6 hours a day sitting, I urge you to at least spend 10 of these mins a day in deep squat. Ideally, we should aim to reduce sitting to a complete minimum, but this is a step in the right direction.