You Don’t Know Squat

If you’re interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Move Your DNA. If you’d like movement instruction via video, start with Nutritious Movement for a Healthy Pelvis.

Are you ready World? In the next few years, you are going to be hearing more and more about the health benefits of the squat. Just like the barefoot movement I blogged about yesterday, the “squat movement” is going to happen in a big way, once everyone realizes that your Pelvic Floor, Hip, and Knee health require regular squatting.

If you haven’t squatted in the last million years (besides the two times you went camping and peed on your shoe), it’s going to take awhile to prepare your joints. Be patient, it’s worth it. Those of you with knee and hip replacements or other contraindications should stick to the first few “prep” exercises and avoid the weight bearing squat. Artificial equipment is not designed to have the same ranges of motion as real joints nor can some surgical repairs take the downward pressures created by straining muscles. Bummer, I know. (But to stave off surgeries of the hips and knees, etc. start this program now!)

To help you, I’ve created a step-by-step “preparing your body to squat program” you can begin right now. All you need is a yoga mat, or thick towel blanket. Let’s go!

Place your one foot up on a rolled yoga mat, keeping your heel on the ground. Step forward with the opposite foot to stretch the back calf.

Now step up with both feet and try to lift you tailbone until it looks less like this picture:

And more like this one below. See the little curve at my low back? This is an indication of an un-tucked, pelvis. If your tailbone slopes down, as in the first picture, your too-tight hamstrings are preventing natural pelvic floor and glute strength from developing.

If you’re a chair-sitter, you should spend 5-10 minutes running through the first two exercises.  They are great for preparing your joints for full flexion (bending all the way).  After you’ve warmed up the back of the calves and hamstrings with a little stretching, it’s time to get down onto your hands and knees.

It is very important that your lower legs and feet track straight back, and are parallel to each other.

Now, from the hands and knee position, drop the hips back as far as you can, without allowing the feet to move closer to each other or allowing the tailbone to tuck under.

Ooops! Too far! See how the pelvis tucked in the picture below? Don’t sit back any farther if your tailbone tucks. This forces your lower back into flexion — not what we want for a pelvic-floor loading squat. Instead, come forward, re-lift your bum, and hang out in the position pictured above.

When your tailbone tucks, this clearly shows how TIGHT your hips have become! If you can’t sit back without tucking, it means that your hips are so stiff, they are preventing natural activity of the pelvic floor and gluteal muscle groups. Do this a few times a day until you can get back with your tailbone up.

You may also see how we are getting the body in the same position as a deeper squat without the loads. It is better to improve range of motion before you throw all your body weight onto tight joints.

Other fun squatting tips…

If your tailbone is tucking when you sit back, it means that instead of peeing (or other things) in a downward motion, you are actually doing them in a forward motion. So that’s why you pee all over your shoes. Maybe you shouldn’t joint the barefoot movement until you’ve mastered the squatting one. Just sayin’.

Now that you’ve been sitting back, it’s time to make your feet move into their squatting position. Tuck your toes under and try to get your feet perpendicular to the ground.

Spend some time stretching your feet while sitting back (aaaaand lifting your tailbone!)

Now it’s time to start bearing your body weight. The strength needed in a squat is not only getting down and lifting up, but also the strength in the lower legs to stabilize the ankles. Your lower leg muscles will usually fatigue first! To keep squats safer for your knees and hips, you should keep the alignment of the lower leg and feet. The feet should point forward, they should be placed just slightly wider than the pelvis, and the knees should not be wider or more narrow that the feet.

When you first squat, super tight quads and psoas can increase the pressure in the knees. In addition to the squat-prep exercises, give yourself additional joint space by placing the rolled yoga mat behind the knees.

Try to both untuck the pelvis as well as lower the heels toward the ground. Hold onto something when you first start, if you’re feeling wobbly!

Check that your feet and knees are still aligned well…

and they haven’t twisted (see how my right thigh and foot pokes out?) and  your weight hasn’t shifted to favor one side. Not good for your joints.

After the ankles and lower leg have had a chance to stretch and strengthen, prop your feet up with the rolled yoga mat and gently allow your knees to bend their full range. Again, it’s very  important that your lumbar spine (the concavity at the lower back) maintain its curve.

You’re ready to go camping now!

Don’t let this person borrow your shoes…

Eventually you will be able to maintain the curve in your low back (pelvis position,check!) and get your heels on the ground (foot health…check!). Until then, use this program as the ultimate total-leg, pelvic floor workout. Progress through these exercises as you feel comfortable, giving yourself plenty of time (which can be weeks and months even!). I also like to turn these moves into an hour-long lower body conditioning session when I’m feeling spunky.

And if you’re really bored, you can print out all of these pictures and make a flip book of me squatting. Now there’s fun for the whole family.

{Updates: For more squatting information and squat FAQs, please check out my most recent squat post You (Still) Don’t Know Squat.}


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119 thoughts on “You Don’t Know Squat

  1. My Yoga Tune Up® students are one week into their monthlong mission of squatting for 5% of their daily waking hours. Those that are doing it are happy happy! I can’t wait to repost this for them. Thanks Katy!!!!

    1. You’re very welcome! It took a bulk of today, so I hope many find it beneficial – a squat will do AMAZING things for your health! – Katy

  2. Thank YOU, Katy, for committing the bulk of your day to outlining the technique of squatting! It’s a wonderful guide and refresher to today’s session. I’ve copied it to use as a valuable daily asset as I aim for those amazing 20 hours! GREAT info!

  3. Since you mention “warming up the muscles” with a few stretches I thought I’d ask this question publicly that I am regularly asked: Don’t we need to “warm up” before we stretch (as is traditionally taught in traditional fitness settings)? I thought I’d let you answer that question for the masses…would you?

    1. No, you do not need to “warm up” your muscles with vigorous movement. Gentle stretching will send blood into the arterioles (smaller blood vessels) located inside the muscles. This is all you need!
      The warming up I was referring to was more about gently stretching the muscles to alert the golgi tendon organs (located inside the tendons) that you were going to ask more from your muscles and joint ranges of motion than normal. – Katy

  4. This is interesting to me because I’ve always been told from yoga instructor and gym trainers when squatting, never to have your knees beyond your toes.

    1. You’re right, Brad. The “keep your knees over your ankles” rule is commonly used when doing gym exercises like squats and lunges, as you are doing them over and over and over. The farther your knee travels in front of the ankle, the more the quads pull the patella into the knee joint below. Your end goal in this deeper squat is to get your knee plum over the ankle, but it’s going to take a lot of work!
      Allowing your knee to go beyond in this deep squat, when doing it in a slow and controlled manner will help you safely increase the space in the joints and the length in the muscles. Good luck!

  5. Wow, wow, wow…OK, the power of this…I…wow. My body said hello to me for a while after this. Something awoke – not just knees and ankles. Then we added the BOSU and closed our eyes. Hahaha Wow!

  6. I found your website through your interview with Mama Sweat. You have really put together a lot of symptoms that I’ve been experiencing but hadn’t realized were connected! I started stretching today to work on squatting and discovered while doing your second stretch described on this page (both feet on the towel, lean over), that I can’t lean over hardly at all without tucking my pelvis. So do I just lean over as far as I can while keeping my pelvis un-tucked, or is there some other step or stretch to do when you’re that tight? Thank you so much for sharing all of this information!

    1. Regina,
      Yes! The position (tail bone untucked) would be the goal, but until then, you keep doing the stretch to increase your muscle length! The optimal length of the hamstrings and best pelvic position is in sight! I’m so glad you found Kara’s blog!
      Best to you 🙂

  7. ok, so i not only have bad knees, but a birth defect in my spine. my last vertebrae thats supposed to be mobile (i think its l5?) is fused to my pelvis, and the whole thing is tilted forward, and the top of the vertebrae is actually digging into my disc. how am i supposed to do this? i tried to demonstrate to my mom so she could try it, and just doing it for a few minutes hurt. even before the weight bearing part. i can go to a chiro, but if the while shebang is fused, what do i do?

    1. Amanda,
      The squat, as noted by the blog, is an exercise you work up to over time. I would spend a few weeks doing the preparatory exercises (not squatting) to improve your mobility. How did the first 5 exercises feel? Remember, the squat is something that should have been done your entire life, which is what keeps the muscles at the right length and the joints open. You can’t rush it! – Katy

  8. Katy, I’m so encouraged to come across these recommendations since Kegels do not seem to be that useful for me. Thanks! Is it possible, though, to start working on these at 7 months pregnant? I’d like to have a smoother delivery this time (baby was face up last time) and it would be great if even 8 weeks of these exercises could help!

    1. Kim,
      Yes, you should absolutely start this now and it will make a difference, even doing it for a short while. The Double Calf Stretch should become your new best friend!
      Please let me know how things go with your delivery, and, congratulations!

  9. Hi, Katy…is it important to make sure that you are engaged somehow in your core as you are doing these squats? Some of my students are hyper mobile in their SI joints and lower back (I have a lot of new mamas and I was wondering if drawing their tailbone out would cause their pelvis to “pour”forward and create too much compression in the lower back if they weren’t engaged somehow in their core. Also, another concern is coming up out of the squat because I would think without some stability through the front body they would lead with their ribcage and again compress the lower back. Does this make sense?

    1. Jeanette,
      Untucking the pelvis to restore the lumbar curvature (which you want all the time), is different than compressing the spine. If the lumbar curve is missing, it means that the lumbar spine is flexing, which is even more detrimental to the lumbar disks, especially when rotating.
      I think what your patients may be feeling is the fact that they are thrusting their ribs all the time (hint: If you can feel the bony prominence of the ribs or worse, wrap your fingers around them then you are thrusting). If a rib thruster extends their spine (just enough to restore lumbar curve) then they will feel like they are compressing their spine, but they’re doing it from above.
      In short: Don’t limit the untucking – the unstable SI is another symptom of the weak glute (that’s what stabilizes a joint…the ligaments are supposed to be backup stabilization, not primary!). Instead watch your moms and cue them to drop their ribs to relieve any back sensations.

      Because the TVA should be assisting the Uterus during expulsion, the squat is a great place to practice exhales coupled with TVA activation, where the umbilicus moves toward the spine. Again, most people mistake PSOAS activation with TVA, so when the belly button moves, the pelvis should not. A pelvis that moves during “TVA” activation is a clear indication that a hip-flexor was used.
      Sneaky Psoas.
      Hope this helps, and, keep doing the great work you are doing. You humble me!

  10. the first exercise, the one standing with the back curved down (untucked pelvis) hurt. it felt good on my legs, but my back hurt. even just holding it for a few seconds. when i tried the ones on my knees, forget it. nothing felt good then. i do know my hamstrings are tight, they always have been, so i probably need to loosen those up anyway, but if my spine isnt going to move in a normal way, i do wonder if i can progress to a squat. when i say my back hurts, it literally hurts along the spine, just in the middle.

  11. I recently realized I’m having some prolapse issues since the birth of my second child, and the majority advice I got was that it was something I would just have to learn to live with. A friend linked me to your interview with Mama Sweat and I followed that to your website. I haven’t found yet where/if you specifically address prolapse, but it sounds like these exercises will help, right? I’m ready to click “buy” right now on the Down There dvd if it will even moderately improve this “untreatable” problem. Thanks for the revolutionary (and quite possibly life-changing) info.

    1. Joanna, The most “natural” thing to do would be to think of doing squats like they were done before the invention of exercise. I like to spend about 5-10 minutes warming up my joints (this may need to be significantly longer if your tight muscles have worn down your knee cartilage…maybe even taking a month to work up to the weight-bearing squat) and then squat for just a couple minutes. I do this three times a day (like I would be bathrooming 200,000 years ago) and it keeps everything at a nice length. So I do ONE squat per session, three sessions a day, holding the squat for 1-2 minutes. I do spend more time stretching and loosening my squatting muscles – about 10 minutes three times a day as well. Enjoy!

  12. is there a way to do (or somewhere already existing) a printer-friendly version of this? I’d like to print out the pictures to use as a reminder cue when doing them away from the computer (I’m much lower brain function right now due to newborn distraction issues), as well as to facilitate sharing with the local homebirth midwives (my own is advising me to do kegals for pubic symphasis pain that is still going on 2+wks postpartum – yes, I know I need to get to my chiropractor too! – will this likely help with that issue? maybe over-tight glutes are keeping the pubic bone from coming together properly in the front? I know I have very tight hamstrings & glute issues pre-dating the pregnancies). Shared this on FB and bookmarked it. I have hypermobility syndrome with secondary chronic myofascial pain and fibromyalgia (and chronic fatigue immuno-deficiency syndrome), have been symptomatic since I was 10 (now age 33) so my muscles are all kinds of screwed up. Thank you so much for the work-up-to-the-squat steps!

  13. I also have high hopes for this -had horrendous problems with my sacroiliac joint during labor/birth, a tight pelvic floor and continuing unstable pelvis at 13 months postpartum. I know I need to do something before I get pg again.

    I went to the pool with my daughter today, and realized that hanging out with her in the shallow depths where she could stand but I wanted to stay in the warm water, I naturally started squatting, and it was extremely easy because of the water’s buoyancy. I find squats incredibly difficult on dry land, esp with knee and ankle pain, so I know it’ll take me a while to build up to a weight-bearing squat…in the meantime, is there any reason not to squat in the pool for more practice? Anything I should pay particular attention to when squatting in the water? (And yes, I go to the bathroom right before getting in the pool ;-))

  14. Hi. I commented on your Hunter-Gatherer post about bad knees. I was told that my quads are too tight and that is what causes/maintains my knee problems. Will doing this make my quads even tighter?

    Also, I have a sway back, so my tailbone almost never tucks on its own and a permanently bulged L5 disk in my lower back (which I was told the sway back helps to keep it in check since it bulges away from my spine rather than in towards it). Will that be a factor in doing an exercise like this?

    My daughter was sunny-side up at delivery 4 years ago and I had to undergo a cesarean and I would like to avoid that for any future delivieries I may have (not pregnant now), so thought starting these exercises and getting into this habit now would be benefical.


  15. Hi Katy! Will these exercises help with the hip-pain I’ve been experiencing? Mostly when I sleep on my side…. the joint hurts and aches the next day…I hope it’s not too late for me and my hip bones!

  16. I also found this post through Mama Sweat. I have a different post-childbirth problem: when stretching, air enters my vagina and, when I reposition, it leaves — noisily. Would these exercises help? Thanks!

  17. Thanks for these amazing exercises. I’m in my second pregnancy and these are helping so much.

    In #3 (hands and knees), I’m wondering what your hands are doing–are your forearms on the ground or just your hands?

  18. Thanks so much for these exercises! I’m in my second pregnancy and I can tell they are helping so much.

    In #3, the hands and knees exercise, what are your hands doing? Are your forearms on the ground or just your hands?


    1. Laura,
      Being on your elbows will take some of the weight off your legs to make it easier to stretch, but if you’d like to add a great shoulder stretch, reach your arms all the way forward (as much as your belly will allow!) – Katy

  19. Hi Katy,

    Check out where thousands of women have been doing this work for almost a decade. Maintaining the natural shape of the female spine is the only effective way to stabilize and reverse pelvic organ prolapse. And kegels performed in supine position are indeed quite useless, as I have been widely proclaiming for just as long.

    I am curious why you do not teach the squat with hips externally rotated, as this is the truly natural squat for women who traditionally spent most of our lives pregnant?

    More importantly, you state “Eventually you will be able to maintain the curve in your low back and get your heels on the ground” in a parallel squat. This is impossible for the human body to do – whether man, woman or child!

    A full squat is wonderful and necessary exercise, but the only ways the pelvis is stabilized – and for women with prolapse this is essential – is either being held off the ground by the arches of the feet, or heels flat and hips externally rotated.


    1. Christine,
      I agree 100%, you can’t have PF strength without external rotation of the femur, but the trick is to not confuse f. ex. rotation with hip abduction (widening the knees) and turning the feet out (lower leg ext.rotation). Eventually you want to cultivate PF strength during standing and walking too, so you want that ext. rotation going on without walking with wide, turned out legs 🙂 Biomechanical evaluation will show that the geometry of the joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments will allow a lumbar curve with the heels on the ground, but if the lower leg is turned out, the soleus, achilles tendon, and plantar fasia tighten making this position “feel” impossible.
      And you men out there, you’re curvature is exactly the same as a woman’s. Your lumbar curve is missing as well, and, don’t you want to keep your organs from resting on your prostate?

      Everyone, please check out Christine’s website at!

      1. I’m confused… Is it okay to squat turned out? I was having trouble staying parallel without my prego belly getting in the way. But I think as a former dance student that my turnout is coming all the way from my hips, not twisting my ankles/knees. This seems to be the natural position I use to squat down and get something.

        1. It’s ok – and probably necessary – when you are super-prego, but the turnout is affecting how the tissues in the hips, knees and feet work. Once you’re not pregnant any more, it is time to undo the years of poor hip and lower leg alignment before long-term damage sets in! Congrats on your baby-to-be!

  20. I think all this is wonderful and have started squatting every day and have also altered the way I sit and move. I had severe pelvic trauma during my first sons delivery and then pain in my 2 subsequent pregnancies and regular squatting is really dealing with the residual pain. -But I am curious – should we be squatting with heels up or down?

    1. Squatting with the heels up is usually required when you’re just beginning the movement (the lower leg is just too tight). Because we want foot health AND PF health, you should be working on the double calf stretch as well, to eventually lower your heels down!

  21. I have a question…. I used to dance and Did from the age of 3 when I squat I do so with toes pointed out, knees over toes, it just feels natural for me, is it still correct?

    1. Sally, you can squat with your toes out, but to really get the knee, calf, lower leg and foot health to improve, the feet should point forward. You’ll probably have to elevate the heels for awhile before your lower leg stretches back to it’s best length! Good luck! – Katy

  22. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

  23. OK, have been squatting per your intructions for a bit now. But I feel all the effort in the front of my thighs, and apparently you should feel it in your behind! Am I doing something wrong?

  24. Thanks Katty, I been working with a cleint and who had bad form on her squat. with your edvice its help her do her squat correctly! Thanks

  25. Katy,

    Thank you so much for this work. My piriformis muscle challenges are completely responsive to your program, including gluteal strengthening.

    I am looking forward to the handout for my practice (I am a family physician). For now, I will link to your site.


  26. Whats interesting to me is that the fourth and eighth images (the bowing and prostrating positions) are the correct form of the proper way Muslims bow and prostrate in prayer from the time god first instructed his Prophet to teach his people, 1431 years ago. This prayer is prescribed upon them 5 times a day, with the daily amount of bows being 17 and the daily amount of prostrations being double that. Coincidence? I don’t know…

    1. Bella: While in graduate school, I did a literature review on World Wide Osteoarthritis Incidence and South East Asian and North African countries (primarily Muslim) had the lowest incidence. One of the hypothesis I came up with was their 5 times a day, life-long habit of full range of joint use! Amazing what USING your body completely can do 🙂 Thanks for your post!

  27. Since I read your blig I have been trying to squat, but now I am 6 month pregnant with my 3rd and my belly is huge. I can easily do the yoga hindi squat (duck feet) but it is getting very hard to get my feet facing forward while squating…
    What to do?

  28. I think I lost my reply (sorry if I post it twice)

    I have been trying to do more squating, but now I am 6 months pregnant with my 3rd, my belly is so huge that it is getting
    difficult to have my feet facing forward while squating.

    What to do?

    1. Hi Debby!
      I can tell you — I totally get where you are right now…I’m 35 weeks myself!
      Remember, it’s not your feet that are getting in the way of the belly, it’s the knees! Feel free to widen your knees — start with your feet out, and then if you can work on turning your feet more forward after a bit, do it in the order.

      In the end, it’s most important to open the hips — the feet can be dealt with less intensely. Congratulations!


  29. Hi! I’ve been having a lot of issues with tightness in my hips and SI joint for the past few months, and they’ve been effecting me VERY badly considering I am a dancer and fitness instructor by trade. I’m attempting your series to see if it helps correct the issue.

    I have a question about the position done on hands and knees. How far back can you go with this position. Should I eventually be able to sit back on my calves and keep the pelvis in a released position, or is that too far back? Should my back be parallel to the floor throughout the range of motion, or does it matter, as long as I can keep that curve in the lower back?

    Also, what is the difference between doing the squat with flat feet and doing them with heels raised? I can maintain the curve in my lower back either way.

    Thank you!

    1. @shanmonster — you should only sit back as long as you can keep your tailbone up. Once it starts to tuck, you’ve gone too far. Eventually the knees and hips will fully flex with the pelvis still relaxed, but it takes some time.

      Keeping the heels on the ground increases the tissue length of the lower leg — extremely important to pelvic positioning while upright and walking. I am betting that although you can squat with heels both down or up, that you are not keeping your shin bones vertically straight when your heels are down. I’ll be posting soon on what that means, so you can continue to refine your squat!

      Keep up the good work!

  30. Katy, thank you so much for this wonderful post! At 7 months pregnant, my belly is in the way when I do a deep squat in my pre-PG stance. Would you recommend that knees and feet be turned out with a wider stance to make room for the belly? I definitely feel like I need some work in this area but want to make sure to do it in the safest & most beneficial way possible.

    Thanks again!

    1. @Maggie — Yes, please feel free to widen at this point. And, look for a new squat update (it’s been about a year since I wrote this!) There’s even MORE squatting tips and info 🙂

  31. Hi Katy,

    I just found your site (through Mama Sweat’s blog, which I also just found) and signed up for your newsletter because I’m intrigued by your expertise. 🙂

    However, I think you should know that all the links to your site that are posted elsewhere are not being sent to the proper pages — you might want to look into setting up some 301 redirects for these, and/or supplying Kara with the updated links. Thank goodness for the search box, and for the fact that I know what I’m looking to find!

    I’m also wondering about the handout you mentioned above… I can’t find it via a search, so is it possible it’s still a work in progress somewhere that is just waiting for some final touches before we can see it? I’d really like to just print this page outright, but I figure formatting it would be a pain, so if you’ve already done it I’d really love to know. Thanks!

    And thanks for all the incredible knowledge that I’ve absorbed so far already! I’m looking forward to feeling much healthier all-around as I learn to stand properly and squat properly and all that awesomely natural physical stuff! 🙂

  32. Eek, after I posted the comment, I got redirected to the home page because of a jumbled URL. There are some issues going on here underneath the hood, and it is a real contrast to the quality of the information here!

    It would be a real shame if people got frustrated by the website issues and left the site before obtaining the precious gems of information that they need!

    I wish I could say that I know how to fix it or could offer to help, but I’m just an occasional wordpress user and avid googler who knows how to fix some things and can figure out others eventually, but probably not efficiently.

  33. ‘I do spend more time stretching and loosening my squatting muscles – about 10 minutes three times a day as well.’

    Are you referring to the squat stretch shown in the post Road trip boot camp?

  34. Also, I started doing that squat stretch today and am feeling alot of soreness in my lower legs mainly-not my bum or hamstrings. I didn’t just stay in that position, I went up and back down like 20 times. Am I doing it right?

  35. Hi Katy, I am pretty sure that I have some osteoarthritis in my left hip….self-diagnosed mostly. I have lost ROM in all directions. Would you suggest working on the squat with my limited ROM….do you think I can make improvements…..hip flexion is very uncomfortable. I have been doing all of your webinars for about 3 weeks and are finding them so helpful! Thanks.

    1. Hi Eileen,
      Yes, I think you can make lots of improvements! Three weeks is great – wait to see how you feel in three months!!

  36. Hi Katy,

    Not to be crude, but when I do the weight- bearing squat, all of a sudden I feel like I’m going to do a number 2! Should I be worried?

    Also, could give us the link to the squat update? Can’t seem to find it?

    Love your work!

    1. Hi Diana,
      If you feel the *other* urge to push 🙂 then you are creating downward pressure — NOT supposed to happen, as this means your squat is working against your PF and not for it. I’d check in with 1) your stomach holding in habits as well as opening the joints up more before you fully squat.

      I’m working on the updates!

  37. Hi there! Quick question. When squatting I have no trouble with my legs or hips but I feel it in my mid back…I’m trying to keep my back straight and more upright like your photos indicate but it feels wrong…any pointers?


      1. Thanks for getting back to me…tried the angel stretch and it felt wonderful! I still feel tension in middle back at the narrowest point when squatting. Hopefully that will improve with time! I’m already learning so much from your blog:)

        I also tried the hamstring stretches. The problem is I can’t get my hamstrings to touch the floor. I have quite a bubble butt though and really big calves and my hamstrings hardly touch the floor when I’m sitting up in an L with my legs out in front of me. I’ve tried reclining on a stack of pillows and and standing bend stretch I just can’t feel them. I think I’ve untucked my pelvis but I can only feel it in my calves but not hamstrings…any suggestions?

  38. What a great post, I am just a big fan of squatting. I run a lot too, and have always read that the ideal squat includes being flat footed, a.k.a. a third-world (or toddler) squat. Do you agree that this should be your ultimate goal with your program as well?

    This article on a professional muscle-man website discusses it, but you’ll have to scroll down about a third of the way through the article to find it.

    Would love your input on whether being flat-footed truly makes a difference and translates into what the author of the linked article concludes:

    “In this posture, the thoracic spine is neutral and can be easily extended depending on where the individual’s attention is directed. The hips and ankles are able to move freely and remain mobile. The posterior chain is carrying the weight of the body, rather than the quads. When he stands, the power to do so will be generated through the glutes and hamstrings. The lumbar spine remains stable and is used primarily to transfer, rather than generate, force.”

  39. Hi Katy

    First of all – thank you so much! I came across your blog a few months into my pregnancy and the info has been really eye-opening. So different from what we’re usually told (kegels, kegels, kegels!) but it just makes so much sense.

    I am 9 months pregnant, and in an attempt to prevent this baby being breech like my first, I’ve banned myself from sitting on the sofa for hours in the evenings. Since I still want to veg and watch tv, I squat on the floor instead. Yesterday after re-reading this post, I decided to look at myself in the mirror. I realized that when I squat to sit/relax, my back rounds and my pelvis tucks under. If I watch myself through the full squatting motion, my pelvis position is good until my butt is a couple feet from the floor. At that point, it tucks under and I can’t seem to prevent it. Is that to be expected, or is it something I should work on? Is relaxing by squatting with a tucked pelvis/rounded back better or worse than sitting on the sofa? I think that if I lean back and support my back against something I can untuck, so maybe that’s the best thing to do. Any pointers on the best position for lounging around are much appreciated!

    1. Congrats! At this point, just focus on your single and double calf stretch. And, stay off the sofa! You can rest with your back against the couch, sitting on a folded towel to help you untuck a bit, and just work on hip opening while your down there! Keep us posted, and good luck! It’s a wonderful thing…

  40. This is fascinating and an excellent complement to my weekly yoga class. I have a lot of residual tailbone pain that I blame on pregnancy/childbirth and I am hoping these squats will help.

  41. This article is great! I would love an album or something that we could upload a photo to have you tell us where to tweak our squat. I’ve been doing squats in a fitness setting for years and am not sure if this should end up like a weight lifting squat, or more like a yoga squat with your bum down by your ankles.

      1. I know, but I’m a dunce 😉

        And what is meant by ‘tucked pelvis” my tailbone should kind of lift toward the ceiling? Not a rounded back, but an arch in the lower spine?

        1. Tucked is the opposite of sticking your butt out. Untucked, which is what you want, means an concave curve (not a rounded back) in the lower spine! Ding ding. You’re not a dunce 🙂

          1. Dear Katy,

            After the birth of my third child on 12/08/2011 I ended up with uterine and blader prolapse which I discovered 2 weeks post-partum. My biggest challenge is to find what works for me in a process of helping my body heal without surgical intervention, for I believe it is not my destiny to live with prolapse but to overcome this hiccup I am dealing with right now.

            I am so grateful I found “Aligned and Well” where you share your solid knowledge of body mechanics and its connection to human well-being. Being a pharmacist, I am a strong proponent of the evidence-based approach to health, and I find your work to be fundamental in helping people learn and understand their bodies in order get better.

            My question , beyond exersizes featured on”Down There for Women” , is squatting recommended for prolapse?

            Thank you so much for your help!

          2. Squatting is very advanced. One of the reasons a prolapse will develop is because of the internal pressure imbalance based on your particular habits. If you have a down-ward pressure habit, then squatting can increase this — so in that case, squatting is not a great place to start. It’s first best to determine all of your particular factors that have resulted in your particular prolapse, and then determine a course of action from there. Prolapse IS simple (although not necessarily easy in terms of work to be done) you just have to know what to do. I’m not sure how much of the PF info you’ve collected so far via the blog, the institute ( etc. I’m also doing a PF week on Facebook, meeting for an hour every night. You can email me at if you need some extra guidance…

  42. This is great! In America we should move our “toilets” to the ground. My mom is Korean and squatting is a normal way to sit and do things in many Asian cultures. I used to be good at is as a kid but have lost some of my flexibility. I am so on board to get back to it now!

  43. Oh my goodness!! I have only found you today.

    I must admit to being rather out of condition since childbirth, especially in the PF region as my last child was a back to back 10lber delivered with non-rotational forceps (the registrar was shocked that he was looking at her lol). On the plus side, I have no tucking under habits to rid myself of…lucky me.

    I have been desperate to tighten my PF ever since and I have done kegels constantly to no avail. I had a smear test last year, for which the male doctor requested that the nurse get the “giant speculum” and suggested I do some kegels; I also initially had stress incontinence for some 3 months after birth and had an internal (finger) strength test, which I realised I had failed dismally when she asked me to clench my muscles again for the third time when I had been doing so without her notice.

    I always wondered why my kegels were not working and when I tried the weights I could not increase strength further despite repeated attempts. I am now going to attempt your method and have just tried my first squat. This lasted 30 seconds and led to heat in my outer lower calf muscles in their attempt to maintain alignment I guess. My PF did not feel anything though, should it?

    Sorry to be stoopid, I know this is probably obvious.

    1. It’s OK to not feel it “in your pelvic floor” — this is more about getting your PF to function without you needing to “contract” it or not. Keep working on those calves!

  44. Hi Katy, thanks for this great information. I have a question about squatting….

    When I squat, somewhere around 90 degrees there is a slipping/clicking kind of thing happening at the lateral aspect of both knees. It’s not a krepitus kind of clicking, but something (my illio-tibial band?) is slipping into a different position. It’s not painful per se, but uncomfortable and I wonder if deep squatting will effect this…positively or negatively. I’d love your advice.

    Should I squat or not squat? If not squat is there an alternative exercise or form I should I use? Are there stretches that could remedy this so I can squat more comfortably? THANK YOU!!

    1. Yes, the squat prep exercises her are good — you can also safely do everything on the “Down There DVD” no squats, which will help you align your pelvis while working on your knees! It can take a loooong time to work up to a squat!

      1. I’ve been doing the prep exercises, have the video, the works.

        So Katy, it’s okay to squat even with the slipping/clicking? Or is this something I should have checked out by a PT or something?

        Thanks in advance!

        1. I would work on improving the slipping/clicking. If your SI joint, for example is very unstable, you wouldn’t really be reaping the benefit of the squat. The pelvic listing exercise and other glute strengtheners (go a blog search for more examples) might be what you need to do to stabilize your knees and hips FIRST…

  45. Since starting this program I am finding it really uncomfortable to lay flat on my back as my pelvis wants to untuck itself!! Can one maintain an untucked pelvis while sleeping/resting flat on your back?? I am also wondering which position is the best from an anatomical point of view to birth in where the pelvic outlet is the widest? Thank you

  46. I’m entering my 3rd trimester of my 3rd pregnancy. Do you recommend pregnant women do these squats as well or do I need to wait? I would love to have a bit more “control” :). Thanks!

    1. Sure – but you’ll want to focus more on the squat prep exercises as dropping down into the full squat can cause one to generate a lot of pressure. Read all the posts on pregnancy to get a better sense of what’s the best thing for you at this stage in the game. And, congratulations!!!

  47. HI,

    I’m just staring this squat program and I’m 6 months pregnant with baby #2. I’m highly motivated since my first was a Very long labor with the baby turned OP.

    You said “Your feet should point forward, they should be placed just slightly wider than the pelvis, and the knees should not be wider or more narrow that the feet.”

    I’m finding it pretty impossible to keep my knees as narrow as my feet with my belly in the middle – they are angling out to the sides despite my efforts to reign them in. Is this ok or do I need to modify in some way?


  48. I’m trying to figure out the squat program – having just discovered it this morning. What I don’t understand is the end goal. Is there a picture somewhere of you doing the perfect squat – the posture we’re trying to achieve?

  49. I was remembering this article from some months back and worked at getting back into a good squat. Last night though, I woke up with numbness/tingling down the lateral side of one thigh. Stretching hip flexors has brought relief. The same thing happened the last time I tried as well. I can squat for short periods, but if I try to do a bit longer, I get this numbness. Am I missing a stretch, or a position that would help lessen the pressure on that nerve??

    Thanks so much for this! I am pregnant with baby #5 and determined that after this one I’ll still be able to jump rope!

  50. Hello,

    Thank you so much for all of the great information! I am 6 months pregnant with our first baby and had doing kegels, squats and running/walking up until recently. Starting a few weeks ago, I started getting sharp pain where my pubic symphysis is, especially when I walk (is this the same as pelvic girdle pain?). I also am double-jointed. Are the squats a good idea for me, or should I avoid exercises that open up my hips even more?

    Thanks again!

  51. Would you recommend this to 70+ year olds with bad, bad hip pain? know it’s great for everyone, but is there an age where it’d be too much of a risk for injury rather than improvement?

  52. Question on the ‘goal’ of a squat. Is it to be able to hold your butt up (using the leg muscles) or to have the full range of motion and rest in the position properly?

  53. Wow. Thanks! The first time I did the first two stretches not only did they ache but bits started popping. No wonder I’m so stiff I can hardly get out of a chair. LOL. Thank you so much!

  54. Wow, I can’t even get past the second stretch because my calves are so tight. I’m not able to untuck my pelvis because it makes my calves burn so bad! Is this normal? I’m going to keep doing the calf stretches and hopefully loosen them up! In the meantime, should I avoid squatting? Gosh, I wish I hadn’t waited until 35 weeks pregnant to start squatting!!!!!

  55. Katy,
    THANK YOU! Just saw this b/c one of my Yoga Tune Up friends posted it and I am so grateful to you! I have been wanting to work on squatting and this breaks it down beautifully. Now I know which part I am getting stuck on so I can practice that. Thank you for creating an easy to understand progression.
    Best wishes,

  56. I’m just trying to reconcile the different purpose of the tucked vs. untucked pelvis squat. In booty barre, great emphasis is placed on a flat back and neutral pelvis. Your pics give the impression that an untouched pelvis is almost a slightly arched lower back. What are the differences between these stances?

  57. What’s up friends, how is all, and what you would like
    to say regarding this article, in my view its truly amazing in support of me.

  58. Wow, incredible weblog format! How long have you been blogging for?

    you make running a blog glance easy. The whole glance of your web site is excellent, as well
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  59. Learning to squat every in the toilet when you need to poop can be extremely rewarding. That’s how we did in the old days anyway. Thanks for this article, Katy.

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