Body processes

Squatting – Function, Task & Diseases


Squatting as a posture has gone somewhat out of fashion in developed countries. Crouching can have positive effects on the musculoskeletal system in everyday life and in sports .

What is the squat?

The crouching describes from its word origin a crouching posture. To assume this position, movements in many joints and joint chains are necessary. As you descend into a squat, the hip and knee joints are progressively flexed and achieve the maximum range of motion in a complete movement such that the backs of the thighs and lower legs touch. The basic requirement for this is full mobility in these joints. The strong hip flexion tilts the pelvis backwards and flexes the spine , the stomach reaches the front of the thighs. The hocksare brought into complete extension ( dorsiflexion ).

The feet either remain completely on the ground with the sole of the foot or lift off with the heel . This evasive movement can have various causes. Leverage is most commonly responsible for this, but functional disorders in the joint or muscle shortening can also be the cause. In people whose thighs are longer than lower legs and feet, the body’s center of gravity is increasingly shifted backwards when squatting and there is a risk of tipping over. By raising the heel, it is brought forward again a little so that its projection falls back into the support surface and a better balance position is created.

Function & task

In times before people knew how to sit, the squat was a body position that was used quite normally in certain situations, such as eating or at meetings, but also as a resting position. This is still the case with many primitive peoples today.

The squat has many benefits for the internal organs . The small and large intestine are erected, the seal between the two organs works better than in other body positions, and the risk of reflux is lower. The colon can be emptied more easily, the rectal musculature becomes stronger and can be better used during evacuation. Even today, in many Asian, African, but also European countries, the squatting position is still used when having a bowel movement.

The small pelvis is straightened in the squat position and its volume is expanded, the prostate , the bladder and the uterus are relieved and protected. The pelvic floor muscles can be used better. Therefore, the crouch is also a good birthing position, which can be used in the water or dry. Regular training in this posture allows pregnant women to optimally prepare for the birth .

Squatting is also used as a functional body position in sports. An incomplete variant of this position is the downhill squat in alpine skiing. Due to the strong flexion in the hip and knee joints, the leg muscles are automatically put into a state of activity. Because of this and the flexed position in the joints, skiers are better able to control the skis and react to unforeseen situations.

Other athletes use the squat in preparation for a jumping activity. The muscles that are responsible for developing the power of the jump are pre-stretched. The elastic elements of the muscle are stretched like a rubber band and thus receive potential energy that can be used for the stretching movement when jumping. The initial force is greater due to this component than without pre-stretching.

Typically, ski jumpers make use of these advantages, but so do volleyball players when jumping to block, especially beach volleyball players. The squat is also the final position in squats, which are still used today as an effective exercise in strength training.

Diseases & Ailments

An important factor that ensures the execution of a complete squat is the necessary mobility in the leg joints involved. Osteoarthritis often affects mobility in the hip and knee joints , so that a complete execution is not possible. In the ankle, it is often the shortening of the calf muscles that prevent the foot from remaining on the ground. This makes the support area very small and the position unstable. Affected people cannot squat for a long time as it becomes uncomfortable and tiring very quickly.

Pain can also hinder or prevent execution. Due to the increasing flexion, the joint partners get into a different position to each other and the pressure and tension conditions in the joints and in the surrounding area change. If structures that are damaged get into the pressure zone or are stretched, pain arises and at some point it is no longer possible or sensible to continue the movement. Cartilage-free bone zones can be affected by osteoarthritis and damaged menisci and ligaments , especially the lateral and cruciate ligaments in the knee, as well as the outer ligaments in the ankle. The same goes for muscle injuries, especially in the front of the thigh and in the calf muscles.

After surgery, flexion in the hip and knee joints may be temporarily or permanently restricted. Crouching is then no longer possible or only partially possible. After surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament, flexion in the knee is usually limited for a while to avoid unfavorable traction on the cruciate ligament plastic and another tear. Orthoses are used for support and control , which are adjusted to the permissible degree of flexion.

Flexion deficits must be expected for a longer period of time, especially after knee operations in which the incision runs across the front of the knee, such as in the case of a joint replacement . In the beginning, maximum flexion is not allowed because of the pull, but the swelling , which is often massive , does not allow it either. Maximum mobility is usually not achieved despite rehabilitation measures and therapy. Although this means that the complete squat is no longer possible, but the functional result is usually good.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.