by Dr. Deric D’Agostino
One of the strongest shapes in nature is the arch. Ancient Rome built arch bridges and aqueducts that still stand today due to the strength. The arch distributes the forces away from the center to the support area allowing a stronger structure.
The human body is a good example of arches. The amount of forces that we place on our bodies every day even in the sitting position can be immense. There is 140 kg of pressure on the low back by sitting evenly on both butt bones (ischiums) while being upright. Now imagine sitting on your foot or crossing your legs or leaning on your console while driving and leaning forward, the pressure can jump up to 200+ kg. not only is that a greater load on the body, its also a uneven force. Placing your disks and nerves at risk.
We have three curves in our spine from the side view. There is a lordosis in your neck and low back while the mid back has a kyphosis. These arches allow forces to be distributed away from the nervous system like a snow plow would clear a path for the brain to communicate easier with the rest of the body.
Our legs are also an arch. It will take our upper body weight and distribute those forces down our legs (while standing) and right out our feet which just so happens usually (in most of us) has arches. At one time I was 230 pounds, my legs weighed 15 pounds each which left 200 pounds of weight that needed to be distributed. You can see that when we sit we take the arch away and the forces increase on the low back.
The Asian squat is, in my opinion, the way the human being is designed to sit. When we squat we are keeping an arch position in the legs which allows the forces to be distributed properly. It also opens the hip and knee joints properly.
It’s said that not everyone can do it but that is generally because our muscles have shortened over the years due to sitting so much. I find that after I do some calisthenic exercises, I am able to perform the Asian squat with no problems at all. It is the healthiest way to sit. I have a two-minute timer on my electric tooth brush—I like to do the squat each morning while brushing my teeth. It takes a lot of strain off my low back.
There are many sites online and on youtube that can explain how to do the Asian squat in greater detail. It is a wonderful daily practice that will make your body work more effectively. This one below is fun to watch.
And here are few links on Asian squatting you might want to check out:
“Asian Squats to Improve Health, Flexibility and Balance” by Cate Leona, UDEMY
“Forget Sitting Versus Standing. The Real Question Is Should You Squat More?” by Anna Medaris Miller, Staff Writer, US News
“The Surprising Health Benefits Behind the Asian Squat,” by Saigoneer
“Why Can’t Everyone Do the Asian Squat?” by Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic