Squatting is a versatile posture where the weight of the body is on the feet but the knees and hips are bent. In contrast, sitting involves taking the weight of the body, at least in part, on the buttocks against the ground or a horizontal object. The angle between the legs when squatting can vary from zero to widely splayed out, flexibility permitting. Another variable may be the degree of forward tilt of the upper body from the hips. Squatting may be either full or partial.
Crouching is usually considered to be synonymous with squatting. It is common to squat with one leg and kneel with the other leg. One or both heels may be up when squatting. Young children often instinctively squat. Among Chinese, Southeast Asian and Eastern European adults, squatting often takes the place of sitting or standing.
As a verb – early 15th century. Squatting in the sense of "crouch on the heels" is from the Old French words esquatir/escatir. Squatting in the sense of "compress, press down, lay flat, crush" is from about 1400. Meaning "posture of one who squats" is from 1570s. Act of squatting is from 1580s. Weight-lifting sense is from 1954.
Full squatting involves resting one's weight on the feet with the buttocks resting on the backs of the calves. It may be used as a posture for resting or working at ground level particularly where the ground is too dirty or wet to sit or kneel.
Most Western adults cannot place their heels flat on the ground when squatting because of shortened Achilles tendons largely caused by habitually:
For this reason the squatting position is usually not sustainable for them for more than a few minutes as heels-up squatting is a less stable position than heels-down squatting. See also dorsiflexion.
In strength training, the squat is a full body exercise that trains primarily the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs and buttocks.
The pistols squat is a one legged squat common in crossfit exercises in which the non-working leg is kept horizontal.
In Taoist Tai Chi, the "Dan Yu" (spine stretching) exercise involves squatting. It is intended to work primarily the pelvic region, the legs and the lower back. Fifty or more repetitions may be performed in advanced classes. The feet are placed in a stance wider than the shoulders. When squatting the knees move in the direction of the feet.
Various people have promoted the adoption of these alternative birthing positions, particularly squatting, for Western countries, such as Grantly Dick-Read, Janet Balaskas, Moysés Paciornik and Hugo Sabatino. The adoption of these alternative positions is also promoted by the natural childbirth movement.
The squatting position gives a greater increase of pressure in the pelvic cavity with minimal muscular effort. The birth canal will open 20 to 30% more in a squat than in any other position. It is recommended for the second stage of childbirth.
There are versions of the "cowgirl" sex position where the woman is squatting over the man, who is lying on his back, instead of kneeling over him. These are referred to by different names such as Asian cowgirl, frog squat position, reverse cowgirl or riding position. The woman can face forwards or backwards (reverse).
Urinating and defecating
When not urinating into a toilet, squatting is the easiest way for a woman to direct the urine stream. If done this way, the urine will go forward. Some females use one or both hands to focus the direction of the urine stream, which is more easily achieved while in the squatting position. It is also possible for females to urinate while standing, and while clothed.
A partial squatting position (or "hovering") while urinating is often done to avoid sitting on a potentially contaminated toilet seat, but it may leave urine behind in the bladder and it is not good for the pelvic floor.
The Squatting defecation posture involves squatting by standing with the knees and hips sharply bent and the bare buttocks suspended near the ground. Squat toilets are designed to facilitate this posture and are common in various parts of the world.
Mālāsana or upavesasana in yoga
Mālāsana (literally sitting down pose), also known as the yoga squat, is an asana.
The asana is a squat with heels flat on the floor and hip-width apart (or slightly wider if necessary), toes pointing out on a diagonal. The torso is brought forward between the thighs, elbows are braced against the inside of the knees, and the hands press together in front of the chest in Añjali Mudrā.
Rice paddy squat position in rifle shooting
The rice paddy squat (or rice paddy prone) position is a moderate stability position that supports both elbows, making it more stable than kneeling yet keeping a high level of mobility. Its higher center of gravity will still be less stable than sitting or prone. It was a traditionally taught marksmanship position but lost popularity after the Korean conflict. The heel-down squat/kneel combination has also been used to fire weapons.
Risk of osteoarthritis
There is increased incidence of knee osteoarthritis among squatters who squat for hours a day for many years. There is evidence that sustained squatting may cause bilateral peroneal nerve palsy. A common name for this affliction is squatter's palsy although there may be reasons other than squatting for this to occur. For richer societies who rarely squat, squatting as a different posture may bring health benefits.
A sign of Tetralogy of Fallot
Older children will often squat during a Tetralogy of Fallot "tet spell". This increases systemic vascular resistance and allows for a temporary reversal of the shunt. It increases pressure on the left side of the heart, decreasing the right to left shunt thus decreasing the amount of deoxygenated blood entering the systemic circulation.
The existence of squatting facets on the distal tibia and talar articular surfaces of skeletons, which result from contact between the two bones during hyperdorsiflexion, have been used as markers to indicate if that person habitually squatted.
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