According to osteopath and author Phillip Beach, the deep squat is one of a few “archetypal postures” that are not just good for us, but “deeply embedded into the way our bodies are built.” When you look at our evolutionary history, he’s not wrong—our ancient ancestors squatted for a very long time.
To be clear, we’re talking about a deep squat: feet flat, spine lengthened, and bum hovering above the floor. Those squats you do in CrossFit and Pilates aren’t the same thing. That partial, often weight-bearing squat is not one early hominids needed to perform. Walking a mile with wild game on their backs, and then resting in a deep squat by the fire? Sure. Doing repetitive partial squats while holding an antelope? Probs not.
In its natural form, the deep squat is a form of active rest. Hanging out in one briefly a few times a day helps provide the movement and compression that keeps our joints well lubricated with synovial fluid. Otherwise, the body basically doesn’t bother producing this fluid, and our joints dry up. In other words: Use it or lose it.
The deep squat is also about getting grounded. Experts including Beach say that “floor life”—which literally means getting close to the floor, much like you might do in your weekly yoga class—is a key to wellness. The practice creates a sense of physical embodiment that’s increasingly absent from our hyper-intellectualized, screen-dominated lives.