Use it or lose it!
How many of us parents can share a healthy moment like Dr Chatterjee in the crouch squat position? For most of us it will be one thing getting down there, and two remaining comfortable in this most natural resting position.
Here is a definition of “Use it or lose it” from Collins online dictionary:
It means that if you don’t continue to practice or use an ability, you might lose that ability.
Examples: If a person doesn’t exercise his or her physical body, he or she will likely lose strength, stamina and endurance. The same applies to a person that doesn’t practice a new skill, whether it is learning to drive, speaking a foreign language, etc. he or she may forget or lose those skills.
How about natural resting posture?
Modern life lavishes us with chairs and seats for all occasions:
- Sitting in the lounge at home
- Sitting in the car
- Sitting in a school classroom or university lecture hall
- Sitting in the office
- Sitting in a fighter jet
- Sitting on the lavatory
- Sitting in a deckchair on the beach
- Sitting in a wheelchair
- Sitting on a bench in the park
- Sitting at a bar sitting a cold beer or cocktail
Each one of these has been carefully designed to meet the specific needs of the task and environment in which they will be used.
Yet none of these pieces of seating meet the natural body shapes and designs we were born with and first used once we discovered being upright.
The seated position demonstrated by Dr Chatterjee and his son in the picture is known by many names and offers a benefit to a number of very natural physical functions. Different cultures adopt more or less of this basic body position. Eastern cultures typically use the position far more than western cultures, who prefer to pull up a chair when they need to rest or “sit” still.
The position we are discussing often referred to as a “deep squat” will also go by other names or descriptors: crouch squat, Asian squat, primal squat, yoga squat, childbirth position, defecation posture are all terms used for the position. All these names describe a position where feet are flat on the floor, ankles, knees and hips are flexed, pelvis is posteriorly tilted, spine is flexed, and bodyweight is centred over the feet.
From very early months in a child’s development a child will be able to demonstrate sitting, standing and walking, requiring a modified squat to transition from one to another. We will see children in the deep crouch position while playing, resting and “sitting” on a potty. At sometime after the first few years of being mobile we then start to lose the ability to reach the lower levels of the natural squat position.
There are not many people who would associate the term sitting with the deep crouch position a toddler demonstrates and would be more likely to consider a chair when thinking about sitting.
Let’s compare the child crouch and the chair sitting position:
Although these two positions go by a similar name, they are an absolute magnitude apart when considering the stresses, they both place on the human body. And perhaps more importantly is what negative impact the chair sitting position has on our physical health as we grow and age?
Sitting in a chair requires a lot of physical soft tissue activation above the waistline in the whole torso to maintain an upright position. Whereas the crouch position is much more reliant on lower limb activity. In the crouch position there is also a lengthening of the posterior chain, muscles at the back of the body, calf muscles, hamstrings, spinal erector muscles all lengthening to maintain this posture. There is also lengthen of the quadriceps muscles and the distal end.
We know there are many people who follow regular stretching regimes, as they are aware of the physical health benefits to the body. The crouch squat is a very natural stretch for our toddlers and children new to walking, and it is a great demonstration of a position far from an upright standing position. Yet over our lives most of us lose the ability to hold the crouch squat in a comfortable way, likely because of spending so much time in the modern chair and sitting position.
From the moment we are born our natural primitive reflexes are driving us to stand up in a extended spine position. But as with holding any body posture it isn’t good to do it for too long. Change is good as a rest and visiting ends of physical visiting wouldn’t be a bad thing to introduce to daily schedules.
Don’t just sit still learn to fidget!