Flexibility and range of motion may not be the first things to come to mind when we’re measuring health, but they are a great indication of your physical abilities, especially in the lower body. A quick assessment of this can be done by performing what’s called a deep bodyweight squat (DBS).

What is this exactly? It’s a more politically correct form of what many refer to as the “third world squat”. A “third world squat” is the position you’re in at the bottom of a full-body squat with your bottom resting comfortably on your calves. If you have a small child or toddler, they often hold this position when they’re picking up a toy or playing in the floor. It received its name from the fact that in many less fortunate countries, you will often see those of many ages sitting like this for hours at a time. This may be for the comfortability of the position or it may be from the lack of seating in many areas. 

So, how does one’s ability to perform a DBS regularly say anything about their health? 

You need a vast range of motion and really good flexibility within the hips, knees, and ankles in order to perform this movement. An inability to do so, pain that may occur when you try, or an improper form that develops as you go into it, can all indicate varying issues within your lower body muscles and joints, all of which can feed into potential issues in the upper body as well.

So, here’s how to properly complete a deep bodyweight squat: 

1) Set your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight forward. 

2) Keep your heels on the ground and your weight distributed evenly over the arch. 

3) Lower your body and keep your spine in a neutral position.

4) Continue all the way down until your bottom touches your calves or hovers just above the ground.

5) Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, then push up slowly to return to standing.

You may also consider having a chair or something else nearby to help you balance as you move into and out of this deep squat. Remember, while many people may make this movement and position look easy, if you’re not used to it, it may take some time to get comfortable moving in and out of it, as well as holding it for a period of time. A DBS is supposed to be comfortable when completed correctly, so pay close attention to your form, and at what point, if any, you feel uncomfortable. It may show you a few underlying mobility issues you didn’t realize you had. 

While this may not be a position many of us are used to holding for a long period of time, it is a movement and position that can teach us quite a bit about our body and train it to be more mobile. Try performing a DBS and see what you’re able to accomplish. Don’t worry if you’re not able to right away, just practice and work your way up to it. Trust me, you will be able to tell a difference in your mobility and flexibility.