“ Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy”. – Sun Tzu
To understand the fundamental value of the squat stance is to appreciate a position that provides efficiency and effectiveness for multilateral function.
We recognize The squat movement stance as essential for activities basic human function such as sitting, lifting. However, in sport this fundamental yet complex stance provides the stage for executing a multitude of sportive tasks. It is a position that also reverberates resilience to external forces.
Functionally the squat stance represents a position of readiness
The squat stance can be recognized for its ability to place athletes in a resourceful and efficient position for a multitude of functionally active movements. In the squat stance one improves their ability to store potential energy for accelerative, jumping evasive, or attack like maneuvers. The squat stance employs multitudinous function from a position of great stability when standing. In the Squat Stance one has the ability to maximize potential energy for synchronized use toward various evasive, jumping accelerative actions as well as the ability efficiently recover and/or absorb energy from these same maneuvers by returning toward the same squat stance.
The squat stance demonstrates a complex composition of factors necessary toward understanding human movement as it can reflect kinematic elemental systems such as neuromuscular control, strength, stability, and mobility from the ground up or standing position (Myer et al., 2014). The various systems and components which support orthograde human posture owes its complexity, shape and function from human evolution and the evolving environment that has laid touch to human beings from their beginnings. The human to environment relationship is an important foundation for exploring the art and special qualities of human movement. And the squat stance a version of human upright posture, unique among all mammalian creatures is a useful place to start.
To appreciate the squat stance, one must evaluate human environmental demands – especially in sport.
“Whatever one may think of it, the upright posture does not offer sufficient advantages for it to have persisted according to the classic criteria of natural selection …sufficient advantages” must have existed, and our ancestors were definitely able to fulfill the functional requirements of their environment and eventually acquired an erect locomotion. (Niemitz, 2010).
From an evolutionary perspective, there appears to be a number of sufficient advantages for the transition from hominin quadrupedalism to bipedalism, that includes the ability to resourcefully navigate varied environments, as well developing useful approaches to attack, defend and intimidate. It is believed our early ancestors, valued bipedalism for the advantages it brought within their wooded habitat of the forest as well as the nearby shore where they walked and waded in shallow water finding rich food with little investment (Niemitz, 2010). The value of standing upright may rest on our ancestors desire to efficiently step through and around barriers in search for nutrients or resources. Evolutionary scientists have also suggested that the adoption of bipedalism in hominins was associated with aggressive displays in which bipedal posture made the individual appear larger and more threatening. Leading theory also suggests that early humans adopted an upright posture and gait to be able to wield resources for attacking and defending against their predators (Carrier, 2011).
In the end, an evolutionary development associated with sufficient advantages in attacking, defending, intimidating and navigating multiple environments translated into a closed-chain kinetic movement that requires the activation of well over 200 muscles for proper function and serves as the biomechanical and neurological basis for several functional and multi-joint sporting movements. The squat dynamically recruits most of the lower-body musculature, including the quadriceps femoris, hip extensors, hip adductors, hip abductors, and triceps surae as well as upper body and supporting muscle groups such as the abdominals, erector spinae, trapezius, rhomboids, and many others) to facilitate postural stabilization of the trunk. (Schoenfeld, 2010)
To fully appreciate, the vastness in function and complexity of a simple squat is to recognize that balancing upright on two feet is fundamentally a human quality, one relegated to nature’s highest form of cognitive ability The vertical arrangement of head, trunk, legs and feet with task specific links in the neck, spine, pelvis, knee and ankles to dynamically balance together is a testament to the power in design of nature or the divine. The human being, a freely moving construct, in spite of the forces acting on it, exists on capricious ground, always an inch or two away from falling – and yet remains erect. In other words, The defying nature of human ability to stand resistant to fall, in spite of nature’s force, is a consequence of human cognition and construct.
Dr. Soo Borson Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Director, Memory Disorders Program, University of Washington School of Medicine defined “Cognition” as broad range of largely invisible activities carried out by the human brain. These activities include perceiving, thinking, knowing, reasoning, remembering, analyzing, planning, paying attention, generating and synthesizing ideas, creating, judging, being aware, and among others, having insight. (Borson, 2010). It is believed that these developed abilities give way to the potential for a habitually erect stance maintained through the processing of gravitational and non-gravitational information. Dr. John r. Skyoles desribes this processing as as a species specific vertical balance faculty that only came to be fully exploited through the evolution of early humans, larger brain size and the development of higher levels of cognition.
The first step in appreciating and understanding the squat stance is to recognize that the multitude of skeletomuscular adjustments that allow for a constant perpendicular uprightness of the body axis to the ground in direct gravitational alignment, is born of (among other factors) a human brain capacity to balance.
Borson S. (2010). Cognition, aging, and disabilities: conceptual issues. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America, 21(2), 375–382.
Carrier, David. (2011). The Advantage of Standing Up to Fight and the Evolution of Habitual Bipedalism in Hominins. PloS one. 6.
Myer, G. D., Kushner, A. M., Brent, J. L., Schoenfeld, B. J., Hugentobler, J., Lloyd, R. S., … McGill, S. M. (2014). The back squat: A proposed assessment of functional deficits and technical factors that limit performance. Strength and conditioning journal, 36(6), 4–27.
Niemitz, C. (2010). The evolution of the upright posture and gait—a review and a new synthesis. Die Naturwissenschaften. 97. 241-263.
Schoenfeld, B. (2010). Squatting Kinematics and Kinetics and Their Application to Exercise Performance. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 24. 3497-3506.
Skoyles, John. (2006). Human balance, the evolution of bipedalism and dysequilibrium syndrome. Medical hypotheses. 66. 1060-10688.