Updated: Aug 11, 2022
For many of you who have come to me with lower back problems, you have probably already heard my enthusiasm for adding squats into your daily routine. Well, a recent article in The Sunday Times (Peta Bee, "the Power of the Squat - The crucial midlife exercise", Saturday April 9th 2022) fully supported my advice and states that "If there is one exercise we should all be doing every day its the squat"
Dr Richard Blagrove, a lecturer in physiology and an expert in strength and conditioning at Loughborough University explains that they are a time efficient and very effective exercise that works a very large volume of muscle mass including most of the muscles in our legs, the postural trunk muscles, the glutes, calves and the muscles in our back. These muscles are key to every day functions such as sitting to standing, climbing stairs and bending to pick something up. It makes complete sense that if we are strengthening these muscles then we will reduce the rate of physical decline as we age. Doing squat exercises can help to protect our backs, reduce strain on muscles, improve balance and strengthen bones - all of which helps to mitigate the damage that comes with ageing and can help prevent falls. And if you have knee problems, Blagrove says that "Squatting will actually improve mobility and strengthen muscles around the knee"
Guess what?...there's more! Current research shows that squatting can even boost your brain power. The up-down movement of the squat coupled with the activation of the large muscle groups creates a dramatic spike in blood flow and its this rate of change that stimulates new neurons and cells to be released.
And the best news is, it's never too late to start. Start with sitting in and out of a chair, then try a squat with your back to a wall. A simple squat needs no other equipment, however as you get stronger you may wish to add hand weights or a kettlebell. Next time you're in clinic ask me for guidance on how to add squats into your life...and keep watching this space for more exercise and lifestyle recommendations.