Squats: Not Just for a Cute Butt

Both men and women in less-industrialized nations used to, and in some places still do, squat on a daily basis in their jobs, to use the bathroom and as a means of waiting, eating or resting. We Westerners do not squat. Unless we're trying to shape up for swimsuit season, and even then, the practice is usually short-lived.Why is this important, you ask? Katy Bowman, MS, a biomechanical scientist and author of the blog Katy Says, describes how repeated squatting changes the physical structure of our body to prepare it for birth:
"The squatting action, preferably done since birth, creates a wide pelvic outlet (the space where the baby passes out).  Starting from childhood, squatting to bathroom aids in the ideal ossification (bone shaping) of both the pelvic bones and the sacrum.  The wider the outlet, the safer and easier the baby passes through.  Squatting also lengthens the muscles of the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and psoas.  When these muscles are tight, they can actually reduce the movement of the pelvic bones and increase stress and pressure on the baby (and mama) during delivery.  Back then and today still, the populations of people who move a lot (and I don't mean exercise an hour per day) have better, easier births."
 Of course, there's no way to dial back to childhood and change our ability to squat. You're either born into a culture that squats or not. There are ways, however, to incorporate squats into your pregnancy fitness routine (What? You don't have a fitness routine? Well, now is the time to get started!) to reap the benefits during birth. Katy advises:
"The squatting action, preferably done since birth, creates a wide pelvic outlet (the space where the baby passes out).  Starting from childhood, squatting to bathroom aids in the ideal ossification (bone shaping) of both the pelvic bones and the sacrum.  The wider the outlet, the safer and easier the baby passes through.  Squatting also lengthens the muscles of the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and psoas.  When these muscles are tight, they can actually reduce the movement of the pelvic bones and increase stress and pressure on the baby (and mama) during delivery.  Back then and today still, the populations of people who move a lot (and I don't mean exercise an hour per day) have better, easier births.Delivery Preparation1.  If you aren't walking at all, begin with one mile, increasing your distance by 1/2 a mile every two to four weeks, until you hit 5-6 miles per day.  Doing all your mileage at once will help you with endurance, but if you are feeling tired or sore, break your distance up over the course of a day.2.  Start your squatting program NOW.  Hamstring and calf tension (both muscle groups down the back of the legs) tuck the tailbone and pelvis under, instantly impacting the size of your delivery space.  FUNNY STORY:  I made the mistake of trying to teach my pregnant sister this exercise while she while she was giving birth.  I'm not going to write down what she said here. :) "
Check out the rest of Katy's blog post for more background information on squatting and crucial tips on how to squat correctly -- yes, there is a wrong way to do it. Want to know another awesome thing about squats? They protect your pelvic floor... but that's a discussion for another day!

 Photo by Katy Says.

0 Comments

To leave a comment, click on the Comment icon on the left side of the screen.  

Recent Stories
Will You Be a Source for PregSource?

"Baby Brain" Is Real, Says New Research (as if we needed proof)

Take a Page from the Book: What People Say About Postpartum Depression

Download our App
Your Pregnancy Week by Week
Find A Lamaze Class
Lamaze Online Parent Education
Lamaze Video Library
Push for Your Baby