When you see photos of indigenous women, they are often squatting to cook a meal or to grind grain. As modern women, we’re not as used to squatting, but it increases the mobility of the pelvic joints and strengthens the muscles of the inner thighs and Achilles tendons. Squatting is also a great position in which to give birth, but it can be uncomfortable unless you get some practice.
Stand with your feet about hip width apart and your heels on the floor. Keeping your back straight and your weight equally distributed between your heels and toes, squat slowly as you exhale. If you need support, hold onto a secure piece of furniture, a doorknob or your partner’s hand. You can also lean back against a wall or between your partner’s knees.
Do not bounce. Stay in the squatting position for at least 30 seconds, then inhale and return to a standing position. Repeat 5 times a day. Work up to squatting for 90 seconds.
If your heels do not lie flat while you squat, your Achilles tendons may be tight or short. You can compensate by spreading your feet further apart, wearing shoes with heels, or placing a book under each heel. You can also hold onto something. Of course, if squatting causes pain or if you have hip, knee, or ankle problems, check with your birth attendant before trying this exercise.