Published: February 12, 2016
The squat is a functional muscle strengthening exercise as many movements that you perform during the course of the day require you to bend your knees and stand up straight: sometimes repeatedly. Improving or maintaining leg muscle strength can help you remain active as you age.
Strengthening the muscles in your legs will make everyday movements easier and may protect your back from injury. When picking up an object from below waist height it is often necessary to bend. Frequently people bend from the waist, but this can put a great amount of stress on you back muscles.
If the object that is picked up is heavy then the stress on your back muscles is increased. This can result in “pulled” muscles in the back and/or in the hamstrings (the muscles at the back of the legs).
Learning how to squat or bend correctly from the knees to pick up an object, no matter how small, can protect your back and hamstrings from injury.
What is a squat and what muscles does it work?
The squat is a multi-muscle exercise which engages your hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteus maximus. Your hamstrings consist of three separate muscles: the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus.
Your quadriceps muscles consist of four muscles: the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and the sartorius. These muscles, along with a few other muscles, are engaged in movements that involve hip and/or knee movement.
In addition to the muscles that are actively involved with movement at the hip and knee, your abdominal, back, shoulder, and calf muscles all provide support for your body as you perform a squat movement. In particular, your abdominal muscles when contracted can provide additional support and protection for you back.
The standing squat:...link to the full article to learn more.
Corbin, C.B. & Lindsey, R. (1994). Concepts of Physical Fitness. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Communications Inc.
Baechle, T.R. (1994). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. NSCA.