I think squats may just be my favourite exercise…..And so for the month of April you can join us in Squatting into Spring!!
We have a different squat variation EVERY DAY and we are challenging you to take part by squatting along with us…
Squats feature heavily in all my pregnancy and postnatal classes and are a staple of Mama on the Move’s strength programme… for good reason - who doesn’t want a peachier bottom with the added bonus of a strong pelvic floor?!
Squats are labelled as an exercise, but squatting is really just a fundamental human movement that many of us have now stopped doing altogether. We could squat more often than we realise throughout the day but instead we do tend to bend over much more to pick things up which is NOT great for the back… To reduce back and hip pain it’s good practice to squat every time you pick something up off the floor (including your baby/toddler!)
Squatting more will help you to become more and more flexible and strengthen and fire your glutes which is imperative to good postural alignment. By doing deep squats you’re encouraging a range of movement that we don’t get generally in our modern lifestyle.
We love squats because they…
1: Increase Pelvic floor muscle strength:
Your Gluteus (bum) muscles attach to your pelvis- if you strengthen the glutes with exercises such as squats the glute muscle it will lengthen the pelvic floor musles prevent ing them from becoming too tight.
2: Prevent Back & Pelvic Pain
Strengthening your glute muscles may decrease lower back and pelvic pain. Strong Gluteus Maximus muscles helps to stabilize your pelvis by supporting your sacroiliac joint. This prevents pain which is often caused by ligaments loosening due to pregnancy hormones relaxin and progesterone.
3: Give you a great looking butt!
Squats will keep your rear in shape during pregnancy and then post so you don’t have to worry about what you look like from behind! (for more tips on avoiding the dreaded mum bum see our blog)
4: Prepare for labour
Squats can help you specifically prepare for labour and birth. The exercise mirrors positions you can hold to help you cope with contractions in early and late labour, helping baby to descend deeper down into the pelvis.
5: Stronger Birth Positions:
Strengthening leg muscles during pregnancy by performing a variety of squats gives you more endurance in your birthing positions, ones that will allow gravity to assist making the pelvic opening wider which gives baby a bit more room to push through!
How to squat properly
- Stand with feet slightly wider than hips. Keep your back straight, with your neutral spine, and your chest and shoulders up. Keep looking straight ahead
- Toes should be slightly pointed outwards and engage your core by sucking your tummy button into your spine to work your transverse abdominals. (see our blog about your core muscles here.)
- Slowly bend your knees and lower yourself to the ground as if to sit in a chair position – pushing your bottom back and down. As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet.
- Stop when your thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Push back up through your heels, exhaling at the same time.
- Inhale when lowering body, exhaling when pushing back up.
- Keep toes pointed forward.
- Engage your abdominals.
- Don't allow your chest to drop and sink onto the tops of your thighs.
- Keep your pelvis in neutral, make sure you untuck the bottom.
When Should You Not Squat?
There are times though when squats are not beneficial and you should avoid:
1: When baby is not in an optimal position after 30 weeks.
Squats help descend a baby deeper down into the pelvis. If a baby’s bottom is presenting first when a baby is in a breech position you don’t want to be pushing a bottom further down. Turn your baby into the optimal position first and then you can start squatting again.
If there is any pain when you perform a squat then you may need to have your technique assessed to correct your form or you can choose from different variations to reduce any discomfort.
- Medical reason/injury
If you have been advised by your healthcare professional not to squat then you should follow their advice.