By Rob Stanborough – PT, DPT, MHSc, MTC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT ~ First Coast Rehabilitation (904) 829-3411
I recently read an article titled, “The Forgotten Art of Squatting Is a Revelation for Bodies Ruined by Sitting”. The article described squatting as more than the motion often used to sit down or bend at the hips. The author described the forgotten art of squatting as fully flexing the back, hips, knees, and ankles – bending all the way down to the ground while keeping both feet firmly planted. In much of the world this is a position used through life for daily cooking, work, sharing a meal, using the toilet, or even giving birth. Children are often seen making this motion when picking something up off the floor vs bending from the waist, which is seen later in life as a compensation. As long as they remain flexible, children will fully squat and return to standing with relative ease. It is not until years later, with loss of flexibility and balance where this motion, or ‘art of squatting’, fades. It is a simple movement but can indeed be lost when not utilized regularity. Joints get stiff. Muscles and soft tissue lose flexibility. And power wanes, making it difficult to control a full squat. This may not seem like a big deal since we have modified our life requirements (raising our front-loading washers/dryers) making it rarely necessary but, there seems to be carry over into other activities, functionality and interestingly enough – health.
I was surprised to find in 2014, the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology showed those who had difficulty getting off the floor without support of the hands, an elbow or leg resulted in a 3-year shorter life expectancy than subjects who got up with ease, which brings me to the purpose of this column.
Don’t allow short term losses become long term. What have you lost during COVID?
It has been over a year since COVID caused many changes in our lives – some of which may never return to “normal”. But as people begin to venture out and attempt to return to the life they once knew, care should be taken, especially when it comes to returning to physical activity. At First Coast Rehab, we’ve recently seen a number of people who attempted to jump back into their previous routines only to be met with discouragement. It’s not unreasonable for them to think “I used to be able to do this” instead of making themselves sore or worse, suffer injury. But just like losing the “art of squatting”, if you’ve not remained active during COVID, that which you did prior to COVID was over a year ago. Chances are you’ve lost mobility, strength, coordination, balance and more. It’s possible to regain and rebuild but it will take time and patience. Give yourself at least half that time to work your way back. And if you are not sure how to start, or have experienced an injury, before becoming too discouraged, consult your physician or physical therapist.
Start smart. Start slow. Start simple – but start before your body forgets.
Rob Stanborough is a physical therapists, president, and co-owner of First Coast Rehabilitation. He is co-author of Myofascial Manipulation: Theory & Application, 3rd ed by Proed Inc. He is certified in manual therapy and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Therapists. Read previous columns posted on www.firstcoastrehab.com.