Do You Know (How to) Squat?

My readers and friends know that I take great care of my hips. My hips have been sensitive since the Aughts, when I worked for corporations in the cube. Ergo consults…a footrest, nothing helped.

Now, I still sit to work at home, but I use an ergonomically designed knee chair and I stand as much as possible. (I am standing with my laptop on the counter as I write.)  I swear by hip exercises as well, but the one movement that helps my hips most is the squat. The squat stretches the five hip adductors going from the pelvis to the thigh bone and from the pelvis to the knee. It helps the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes too. I squat on my knee chair and on the floor.

Westerners Don’t Know Squat

I believe westerners are neglecting a basic self-care activity by failing to routinely squat. In the Far East, India, Middle East, and Africa, squatting takes the place of sitting. Asians squat with their heels on the ground and knees aligned with the direction of their toes, but most Americans can’t place their feet on flat ground because their Achilles tendons have been shortened by wearing shoes and sitting in chairs. Their quads are weak, their hips don’t extend, and they fall over backwards when they squat.

How to Do the “Asian Squat”

To squat like an Asian, it’s important to first build up your Achilles tendons with foot and ankle exercises. And then, start by squatting with your back against a wall to prevent falling backwards. Keep your feet wide apart, align your knees over your feet, lower yourself slowly, rest your arms on your knees, and don’t sit down on the dirty ground! Next, practice squatting away from the wall with your back hunched over your knees. Now practice again and again until squatting is perfunctory.

Daniel Hsia, young filmmaker extraordinaire and bro of my pal, Sue Hsia Lew, made this video, “How to do the Asian Squat,” back in 2002. In my mind, Daniel’s spoof is a great public health intervention. Enjoy!

Your thoughts: Can you do the Asian Squat?

Also about hip exercises:
30 Days on the Rebound(er): Jumping on the Mini-trampoline

Jumping on the Mini-trampoline, 30 Days Later


Jumping on the Mini-trampoline, 30 Days Later

Last month, I sort of made a commitment to jump on the mini-trampoline for 30 days, and now I am here to report the results: 12 days of jumping / 30 days = 100% success in my book. I’m happy because I decided that 30 days of anything is a bore and 30 days of one exercise constitutes over-doing it. This is what else I found:

Jumping is Fun
There’s a reason why kids like bouncy castles and jumping on the bed. I am outta here if it’s not fun.

Jumping Uses the Upper Body
It’s not easy to find an aerobic activity that engages the upper body, but with the jumping jacks, upper body twists, basket ball hops, and others, I’m working harder than I would on the treadmill or bike.

Jumping is Plyometric
Pylometerics are the single most important kind of exercise you can do to strengthen the bones. With plyometrics, the muscles are repeatedly employed, rapidly stretched (“loaded”) and then contracted, as in jumping high off the ground or in push-ups with a clap between. Jumps (two feet), hops (one foot) and bounds (taking off on one foot and landing on the other) are all plyometric moves on the mini-trampoline.

Jumping Aggravates Stress Urinary Incontinence
Not that I have it, but I can see where jumping and running would cause urine to leak, especially in aging boomer females who are mothers. I learned that, before jumping, it’s important to empty the bladder and not to forget that Kegels call.

Jumping is No Substitute for Daily Hip Exercises
As I’ve explained, I met my lifetime sitting quota while working in the corporations and now I have to undo the damage to my hips. I swear that without these hip exercises from my favorite About.com guide, the Guide to Sports Medicine, I would be in perpetual pain, but with them, I am fine.

Jumping Helps Skating; Skating Helps Hips
Last week, I went ice skating and I remembered how good it is for the hips, the glutes and the groin. My ice skating is enhanced by the cardio workout, plyometrics and balance involved in jumping on the mini-trampoline. And, I hope my bones are strong in case I fall. New commitment: I plan to skate once a week followed by a Hot Toddy and an epsom salt bath.

And so, I’ve changed my commitment to match my reality: 2-3 days a week of jumping on the mini-trampoline (from JumpSport Fitness), plus walking for transportation, Pilates twice a week, passive stretching, some ice skating, and stuff for my hips. Now there’s no time for anything else. How’s that for commitment?

Your thoughts:  What’s your commitment to healthy movement?

See 30 Days on the Rebound(er): Jumping on the Mini-trampoline