Should children squat?
Should children squat?
We’ve all seen the toddler just dropping into a perfect squat, and perhaps like me, we may have been slightly jealous at that fact! But we can let toddlers have this one. They’re not built like us. At the age of 1, their bodies can be roughly divided into four even sections. Their head being one, then the distance from the floor to their knees, their knees to their belly buttons and their belly buttons to their heads. Whereas as adults, our head is only a 9th of the length of our bodies. Our heads are much smaller and much lighter comparatively. The fact that theirs are heavier actually allows them to perform a better squat, as their body has to balance, otherwise it will fall over. As adults do not, it actually make is harder.
So that in part explains why toddlers find it easy, but it doesn’t necessarily help children keep squatting in a good position. As their bodies grow and change, their movements change too. However very few children are aware of this change, and so they often ‘go with the flow’, hence why we see so many pre-teens unable to squat. Does this matter? Well I think so.
The squat is a functional movement. This means that it is a movement that we perform in daily life- sitting on a chair, in the car, going to the toilet, getting off the bed, picking up a box from the floor… we want to be able to do this (both the ‘sitting’ and the getting up!) unassisted for as long as possible, and one way to achieve this is to learn to squat!
The squat is not just a leg movement. A good squat requires you to have a good solid back and core. Having a strong core/ back is so important. Having that strength and stability will help prevent injuries later on in life. Too often we hear of adults complaining of backaches, or back injuries. I want to help children get the tools they need to keep them injury free!
A good squat needs both flexibility and stability in the ankles, knees and hips. This is also important in other aspects of life- when we walk, run, cycle, jump, climb, throw, catch etc. Having a good base to start from is also much easier, than trying to regain that flexibility and stability later on in life.
The squat will also allow you to become more powerful in other sports. The squat activates your glutes, quads, abdominals- all muscles needed to jump further, higher, pushing off the ground… so whether you want to be faster and/or stronger in sports, or have a physical job, the squat will help you. As mentioned before, it is much easier to maintain a skill than learn a new one. So start teaching our children how to squat, with good form, rather than wait until bad habits are formed.