Crouching, or to lower the body stance by bending at the knee and hip, is a movement not often seen in the regular population. We generally are either sitting, standing or walking. However, this movement is quite popular in the sports arena as seen in the athletic or defensive position. Being able to get into, hold and move out of this position is crucial for athletes. A crouched stance lowers the center of gravity (generally the hips in most people) to the base of support (the feet). This lowered position creates increased stability and balance, and put the athlete in an advantageous position to absorb and apply force. The more efficient a person is at crouching the more effective they are in their movements.
But as I mentioned crouching is not seen regularly in the regular population……..Or is it? (I know, I am contradicting myself, but bear with me here). What happens when we hear a loud noise? We duck, or quickly lower our body stance. What happens when something or someone comes at you? We lower our stance to either take on the forces or run away? In the general population the crouching movement is more seen as a fight or flight mechanism. We innately will lower our stances without thinking about it. However, after all of the adrenaline wears off, there is potential for soreness or injury to remain because we are not used to getting into this position. If we are, we will react better ad perform tasks more efficiently without the residual pain.
Crouching is also seen in the squatting motion and the lunging motion. These are temporary “crouches”, where the body stance is lowered by bending the knee and hips, but the body quickly returns to a stand position. These are valuable in their own right, but to stay in the crouched position is an entirely different animal. Here are the progressions to build up to moving efficiently and effectively in a crouched position. Keep in mind, for the scope of this blog, I will only cover a lateral crouching movement progression. We can move in any direction with a crouch (all of which should be progressed).
- Wall sit- Bracing your back against a wall, sit so that your legs are at 90 degrees. This is good to develop some base strength before progressing to a non-supported stance.
- Crouching Position hold- In a standing positon with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, lower your hips by bending your knees and pushing your hips back. Keep your knees over your shoes and back straight. Lower your hips to tolerance, but do not drop the hips below the knees. Hold this for a predetermined amount of time.
- Crouching Position- Kick Stand- In crouching position, narrow your stance so that your feet are close together. Extend your left leg out straight to the left. The left leg will act as a “kick stand” for the right leg as the right leg will bare most of the weight. Hold this for a predetermined amount of time on one side and then switch.
- Crouching Position- Tap out- In crouching position, narrow your stance so that your feet are close together. Extend your left leg out straight to the left, tap it down to the ground and then bring it back underneath the body. Do not drag the left foot on the ground. Do a predetermined amount of reps and then switch sides.
- Crouching Position- Single Leg- Stand on one leg. Lower your hips by bending your knees and pushing your hips backwards. Lower your hips to tolerance, but do not go below the knee. Hold this position for a predetermined amount of time and then repeat with the other leg.
- Shuffle- In a crouching position (see crouching position hold) move in a predetermined direction (can be lateral, forward, backwards, angled, or rotational). Keep the stance wide and feet straight, try not to recover the feet together. Keep the hips at the same level the entire time. Do this for a predetermined distance. Start slowly and then increase the speed as proficiency increases.
- Squat Push- In a narrow stance crouching position, forcefully extend your right leg applying force to the right so that your body goes to the left (think speed skater motion). Do not step out with your left leg, but rather lift it up keep it bent underneath the body only for it to land on the ground again. Recover the right leg back to the narrow stance position. Repeat for a predetermined distance and then return.
- Squat Step- In a narrow stance crouching position extend your left leg out to the left (same movement as the couching tap out). Once the left foot is on the ground and the left leg is completely straight, move your hips from the right leg to the left, without raising them. Once you’re over your left leg and your right leg is straight, recover your right leg back underneath your hips into the narrow stance crouching position. Continue this for a predetermined amount of distance and then return.