The Heel Squat – back to basics

Posted on 07. Feb, 2012 by drpeters in Uncategorized

This year we will focus on a “back to basics” approach to physical well-being and activity. From body mobility and movement, to fun and fitness, and even nutrition, our practice will look to key basic principles of each. We hope this encourages a return to the basics so as to build a stronger foundation for an active, healthy lifestyle. Re-connecting to fundamentals is a key to ensuring efficiency in all things. A serious review of these principles will hopefully prompt some changes in your lifestyle that can have positive long-lasting effects for years to come.

To my surprise, me and approximately 90% of my clients, cannot perform a “heel squat”. A heel squat, or heel sit, is the ability to bend your knees completely down into a sitting position where your rear hits your heels. If you are free of severe ankle, hip, or knee problems, then this a movement you should be able to do. Unfortunately, most of us (me included) have created a myriad of interconnected problems throughout our bodies. As the saying goes, “when the feet hit the ground, everything changes”. If your feet (the foundation of your body) are in altered in their posture, function and alignment then the rest of the body is forced to follow. The body will compensate and adapt to any alteration. This can then result in joint or muscle problems in the feet and anywhere else from there on up to the head and neck.

Meet K Star (A Doctor of PT from San Francisco)) and his MobilityWOD website ( He has introduced this basic concept to the masses. Check out his clip on Day 90 (page 58) for a video on the Heel Squat Test. Good stuff!

I love the simplicity of this movement, yet the profound impact that it has on whole body movement and balance. “Simple” because its a movement we should all be able to do barring bad knees and big bellies. Its a posture our ancestors probably did all the time either by sitting and eating, resting, and going to the bathroom – all before the advent of the chair. By the way, this brings up a chicken and egg question; Did poor biomechanics from the feet up contribute to a cascade of events resulting in a bad knee, low back or big belly? The Heel Squat is “profound” in that it show the interconnectedness web have from the feet up. Recent studies have shown that we are truly connected from the ground up by connective tissue called “fascia”. Bags of fascia surround our muscles, organs, and bones and these are all interconnected by the fascia itself (the largest organ of the body!). Any looseness or tightness of these “bags” can have an effect on neighboring “bags” thereby creating a cascade of changes along the entire body system. This concept is also known as “tensegrity”. How is your tensegrity doin’?

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