Sunday, August 21, 2011

Breaking Down The Functional Wall Squat (Part 1)

The next several posts will be a topical series on the Functional Wall Squat.

The Functional Wall Squat is one of my favorite exercises used for Kettlebell Therapy. The use of a wall as a visual and tactile cue has unlimited applications in preventive therapy which naturally expands to health and wellness. Typically, wall exercises are done while leaning against the wall. The functional wall squat is one of those rare exercises which are done while facing the wall. The concept is that of using a solid structure as a guide-wire to postural mechanics and squat mechanics.  However, to even begin discussion on the squat itself, we must first discuss posture.

Posture is the position and orientation of the body’s trunk, limbs, joints, and tissues. Posture affects every system of our body such as our spine, joints, heart, lungs, bladder, and much more. It is important for us to train our bodies to recognize and adopt ideal postures as unconscious habit. Good posture promotes good health, bad posture leads to injury and/or illness.

Since good posture promotes good health, it is important to discuss the concept of an “ideal posture”.  An ideal posture is the best position and orientation of the body in which internal and external forces are minimized. Posture is generally situational as we are not always in the same orientation in space every second of every day.  In 24 hours, the human body can be supine, prone, side lying, sitting, squatting, standing, extending, flexing, rotating, reaching, bridging, kneeling, etc. Throughout the day, the body is victim of its own internal forces (muscle contractions, internal pressure, tissue tension, etc.), AND, external forces (gravity, the environment at large, ergonomics, etc.).  It is through ideal posture that we can minimize these stress forces which can be damaging, and thus, preserve the body’s wellness.

As the Primary Spine Physiotherapist of a major hospital in the Greater San Diego Area, I care for the physiological functional health of 1200-1400 patients a year. Of those, I’m responsible for the better part of 800-1000 spine patients in a given year. I can tell you from both scientific literature and clinical experience that posture is the one of the foundational components of health and wellness.

Coming up: Breaking Down The Functional Wall Squat (Part 2). In the upcoming posts, I will give two diagrams I use for my weekly pre-operative spine class which depict ideal posture to lay down the foundation for The Functional Wall Squat.

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