Goblet Squats for Healthy, Happy Hips

Natural squat. Gettyimages

Squatting is fundamental to human existence. Early man adapted a natural, full range of motion “bum to grass” squat. Long before we started adapting to chairs at home and work and placing schoolchildren into hard, wooden desk chairs at school, to “sit down” meant to take a deep “primitive” squat position.

The Essential Human Movement

We need look no further than childhood to see that the squat is an essential human movement.

Notice the ease with which an infant will squat down to pick up a toy, with flat feet, hips down to the floor and an upright, loose, easy posture. All with no instruction at all, it is a natural movement pattern.

From grade school, continuing onward throughout life into college and career, most of us spend our entire lives eating, driving, working, even going to the bathroom in this right-angle, limited range of motion half-squat. Spending so much time seated in chairs, we are not squatting at all, without a demand for balance and stability. Many of us have lost a most basic function and this dysfunction is being seen at younger ages. 

At what point is this natural function lost? More importantly, can it be regained?

It’s estimated that at one time or another, 80% Americans will experience low back pain. The thick hip flexor muscles in the front of your body that connect the legs and trunk get tight and stiff from prolonged sitting.

As the hips get tight and less mobile, there is often pain and discomfort, particularly in the lower back. The tighter the hips, the weaker and more painful the back and butt muscles become.

In less-developed parts of the world, workers adapt and maintain this rock-bottom squat for many hours, day after day, throughout all ages of life.

Performing the Kettlebell Goblet Squat

While you may not be ready to get rid of your chairs, you can go a long way to improve your posture, health and function of the hips and low back with the Kettlebell Goblet Squat.

Here is how to do it:

  • Bring a kettlebell in front of you with both hands facing palm up and your forearms against your body, holding the Kettlebell like it is a Goblet, a giant wine glass. 
  • Stand feet at shoulder width or slightly wider, with the toes pointing forward. In some cases, tightness in the hips will require that the toes are turned out to the side.
  • Take a deep inhale into your abdomen, push your hips back and drop your center of mass down until the top of your thighs are parallel to the floor or slightly below parallel. As your hips sit back and down, push your knees out to the side. Don’t rotate your knees, just push them out. You should feel no pain or discomfort in your knees at all. Find the position that fits your structure, so that you can sit back and down comfortably.  
  • Avoid flexing your trunk forward too much. Keep feet flat to the floor throughout the entire movement. The Kettlebell held in front of you acts as a perfect counter-balance to keep your body upright and helps you find your optimal squat position.
  • As you exhale, push up by driving your feet down into the floor, extending your legs completely and pressing up through the top of your head.

Try a few sets of 5-10 reps throughout the day as a healthy back tonic. 

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