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Squatting position

  (Redirected from Full squat)

Squatting is a posture where the weight of the body is on the feet (as with standing) but the knees and hips are bent. In contrast sitting involves taking the weight of the body, at least in part, on the buttocks against the ground or a horizontal object such as a chair seat. The angle between the legs when squatting can vary from zero to widely splayed out, flexibility permitting. Another variable may be the degree of forward tilt of the upper body from the hips – see particularly here and here. Squatting may be either:

  • full – known as full squat, deep squat, (sitting) on one's haunches, (sitting) on one's hunkers, or hunkering (down) etc. – see text and see image gallery
  • partial – known as partial, standing, half, semi, parallel, shallow, intermediate, incomplete or monkey squat etc. – see text and see image gallery.

Crouching is usually considered to be synonymous with squatting. It is common to squat with one leg and kneel with the other leg.[1] One or both heels may be up when squatting. Young children often instinctively squat. Among Chinese, Southeast Asian and Eastern European adults, squatting often takes the place of sitting or standing.[2]

Elements of squatting are frequently used in everyday life without us realising it, whenever we lower our body.



The variations in this section particularly apply to full squatting but can apply to or have elements of partial squatting.

Both legs squattingEdit

Squatting for both legs can involve:

Heels-down squatting for both feet is the most stable arrangement of the three but most Western adults cannot do it.

Where the heel is up for one foot, the thigh for that leg is typically more nearly parallel to the ground than that of the other leg. Additionally the heel-up foot is typically planted further back than the heel-down foot.

Where the heel is up for both feet, it can be by different degrees thus giving two different thigh angles.

Squat/kneel combinationEdit

It is common for one leg to be kneeling, while the other leg is:

Genuflection typically requires the heel down version of the squat/kneel combination.

The kneeling part in the squat/kneel combination is effectively just taking the heel-up-for-one-foot variant of both legs squatting a stage further. Similarly, the heel-up-squat version of the squat/kneel combination is potentially a stage before both legs kneeling.

Variations are possible as to which parts of the toes touch the ground for a kneeling leg:

  • the tip
  • the under part
  • the upper part.


As a verb – early 15th century. Squatting in the sense of "crouch on the heels" is from the Old French words esquatir and escatir. Squatting in the sense of "compress, press down, lay flat, crush" is from about 1400. Meaning "posture of one who squats" is from 1570s. Act of squatting is from 1580s. Weight-lifting sense is from 1954.[3]

Young childrenEdit

Young girl playing at ease in a squatting position

Young children squat instinctively as a continuous movement from standing up whenever they want to lower themselves to ground level. One- and two-year-olds can commonly be seen playing in a stable squatting position, with feet wide apart and bottom not quite touching the floor, although at first they need to hold onto something to stand up again.[4]

Resting positionEdit

Squatting on the ground as a resting position

Full squatting involves resting one's weight on the feet with the buttocks resting on the backs of the calves. It may be used as a posture for resting or working at ground level particularly where the ground is too dirty or wet to sit or kneel.[1]

Most Western adults cannot place their heels flat on the ground when squatting because of shortened Achilles tendons largely caused by habitually:[5][6][7]

  • sitting on chairs or seats
  • wearing shoes with heels (especially high heels)

For this reason the squatting position is usually not sustainable for them for more than a few minutes as heels-up squatting is a less stable position than heels-down squatting.[8][9] See also dorsiflexion.

In sportEdit

Catchers in baseball[10] and wicket-keepers in cricket facing slow deliveries assume full squatting positions. Australian wicket-keeper Sammy Carter (1878 to 1948) was the first to squat on his haunches rather than bend over from the waist (stooping).[11] (See full squats gallery for images.)

Slav squat, rap squat, prison pose and jail poseEdit

Gopnik is a pejorative term to describe a particular subculture in Russia, the former Soviet republics, and other East Slavic countries. Gopniks are often seen squatting in groups ("in court" (на корта́х), "at the pictures" (на карташах), "doing the crab" (на крабе)).[12] It is described as a learned behavior attributed to Russian prison culture.[12] Gopniks usually wear Adidas tracksuits, due to them being popularised by the 1980 Moscow Olympics Soviet team.[13] The Slav squat or Russian squat is associated with Gopniks in Eastern European countries[14] together with stereotypical Eastern European behavior such as consumption of vodka and cigarettes and participation in street gambling.[15][16] It is a full squat with both heels down.[17]

Equivalents to the Slav squat in Western culture, sometimes with the hands together in a prayer position, are the rap squat, prison pose, and jail pose. They are often used as photographic poses.[18][19][20]


Owling is a craze for crouching on unusual objects.[21]


"Hunkerin'" is, in particular, the name applied to the American fad of resting in the squatting position in the late 1950s. Life referred to it as "sociable squatting". Such behavior had been seen in many cultures, particularly in Asia, for centuries when it suddenly became a fad in the United States in 1959.[22] While the word "hunkerin'" is believed to originate from the Scots word for "haunches",[23] claims were made for Yorkshire, Korea and Japan.

Time reported that the craze started at the University of Arkansas when a shortage of chairs at a fraternity house led students to imitate their Ozark forefathers, who hunkered regularly.[23] The fad spread first to Missouri, Mississippi and Oklahoma, then across the U.S. While males were the predominant hunkerers, it was reported that females were welcomed by many groups.[23] Within months, regional competitions were being held to crown champions.[23]

An article in Blytheville, Arkansas newspaper The Courier News predates Time's article by over a month, and details and defines the hobby, stating that a hunkerin' contest was held between University of Arkansas fraternity members and Memphis State University students[24].

Considered by authorities as preferable to the earlier fad of phonebooth stuffing,[23] people hunkered for hours on car roofs, in phone booths and wherever people gathered.[22] Different styles were reported as "sophisticates" tended to use a flatfooted posture while others hunkered with their elbows inside the knees.[23]

There is also proof of specifically named styles according to the self-proclaimed "news and nostalgia" site Ivy Style. For example, if one studied while hunkering, it was called the Horace Hunker[25].

Reasons for the spread of the activity included the ability for large groups of people to participate together peacefully to discuss issues such as politics or sport. When asked about this popularity, one participant described it as

A respite from a world of turmoil. The main purpose of hunkerin' is to get down and hunker together. It's a friendship thing: get your friends to hunker with you. The man you don't know is the man you haven't hunkered with.[23]

Proponents urged United States President Dwight Eisenhower and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev to hunker together to end their differences.[23] By 1960 the fad was fading.

Grand HowlEdit

Baden-Powell's illustration in The Wolf Cub's Handbook (1916) showing how a Wolf Cub's squatting posture imitates a wolf at the Grand Howl.

The Grand Howl is a ceremony used by Cub Scouts. It was devised by Robert Baden-Powell and is based on the Mowgli stories in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book. In the ceremony, Cubs act out the wolves greeting Akela, the "Old Wolf" at the Council Rock and are reminded of the Cub Scout Promise. For this ceremony cubs assume the squatting position to imitate a wolf's posture.

#SquatForChange movementEdit

Father Donte Palmer started a notable campaign for facilities for changing diapers in public restrooms using the #SquatForChange hashtag. When public restrooms do not offer a place to change his son’s diaper, Mr. Palmer squats low with his back against a wall, and lays his son Liam across his lap.[26][27]

Childbirth positionEdit

Engelmann's seminal work "Labor among primitive peoples" publicised the childbirth positions amongst primitive cultures to the Western world. They frequently use squatting, standing, kneeling and all fours positions, often in a sequence.[28]

Various people have promoted the adoption of these alternative birthing positions, particularly squatting, for Western countries, such as Grantly Dick-Read, Janet Balaskas, Moysés Paciornik and Hugo Sabatino. The adoption of these alternative positions is also promoted by the natural childbirth movement.

The squatting position gives a greater increase of pressure in the pelvic cavity with minimal muscular effort. The birth canal will open 20 to 30% more in a squat than in any other position. It is recommended for the second stage of childbirth.[29]

As most Western adults find it difficult to squat with heels down, compromises are often made such as putting a support under the elevated heels or another person supporting the squatter.[30]

In ancient Egypt, women delivered babies while squatting on a pair of bricks, known as birth bricks.[31]

Sexual positionEdit

The "riding" position (Mulier equitans) was popular in ancient Roman erotic art (wall painting from Pompeii, 62–79 BC

There are versions of the "cowgirl" sex position where the woman is squatting over the man, who is lying on his back, instead of kneeling over him. These are referred to by different names such as Asian cowgirl, frog squat position, reverse cowgirl or riding position.[32] The woman can face forwards[33] or backwards (reverse).[34]

Female urination positionEdit

The Jeanneke Pis statue in Brussels, a female counterpoint to the city's male Manneken Pis

When not urinating into a toilet, squatting is the easiest way for a female to direct the urine stream (although many women find that they can do so standing up). If done this way, the urine will go forward. Some females use one or both hands to focus the direction of the urine stream, which is more easily achieved while in the squatting position.

Acceptability of outdoor urination in a public place other than at a public urinal varies with the situation and customs. In Western countries, males typically urinate standing up, while females squat.

Using partial squattingEdit

Body position taken by women for urination into many female urinals: floating half squat or ″skier position″

A partial squatting position (or "hovering") while urinating is often done to avoid sitting on a potentially contaminated toilet seat, but it may leave urine behind in the bladder[35] and it is not good for the pelvic floor.[36]

Defecation positionEdit

Some toilets allow the user to defecate in either the squatting or the sitting position

The squatting defecation posture involves squatting by standing with the knees and hips sharply bent and the bare buttocks suspended near the ground. Squat toilets are designed to facilitate this posture and is common in various parts of the world.

Using partial squattingEdit

A partial squatting defecation position (or "hovering") while defecating is often used to avoid sitting on a obviously soiled and/or potentially contaminated toilet seat.[37]

Dynamic exerciseEdit

As strength trainingEdit

Weightlifting moving from a full squat to standing position

In strength training, the squat is a full body exercise that trains primarily the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs and buttocks.

Burpee (squat thrust)Edit

The burpee is a full body exercise used in strength training and as an aerobic exercise. The basic movement is performed in four steps and known as a "four-count burpee".

  1. Begin in a standing position.
  2. Move into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
  3. Kick your feet back into a plank position, while keeping your arms extended. (count 2)
  4. Immediately return your feet into squat position. (count 3)
  5. Stand up from the squat position. (count 4)

Taoist Tai ChiEdit

In Taoist Tai Chi, the "Dan Yu" (spine stretching) exercise involves squatting. It is intended to work primarily the pelvic region, the legs and the lower back. Fifty or more repetitions may be performed in advanced classes. The feet are placed in a stance wider than the shoulders. When squatting the knees move in the direction of the feet.[38][39][40]

Mālāsana or upavesasana in yogaEdit

Mālāsana (literally sitting down pose), also known as the yoga squat, is an asana.[41]

The asana is a squat with heels flat on the floor and hip-width apart (or slightly wider if necessary), toes pointing out on a diagonal. The torso is brought forward between the thighs, elbows are braced against the inside of the knees, and the hands press together in front of the chest in Añjali Mudrā.[42]

Rice paddy squat position in rifle shootingEdit

The rice paddy squat (or rice paddy prone) position is a moderate stability position that supports both elbows, making it more stable than kneeling yet keeping a high level of mobility. Its higher center of gravity will still be less stable than sitting or prone. It was a traditionally taught marksmanship position but lost popularity after the Korean conflict.[43] The heel-down squat/kneel combination has also been used to fire weapons – see image.

Partial squatEdit

A partial squat (also known as standing, half, semi, parallel, intermediate, shallow, incomplete or monkey squat etc.) is an intermediate stage between standing and full squatting, that is, standing but with the knees and hips bent. (In contrast, stooping involves bending at the waist rather than just the knees and hips).

(See partial squats gallery for images.)


The basic variables of partial squatting are:

  • degree of lowering of the hips in turn caused by degree of bend in the knees
  • degree of forward tilt of the upper body from the hips
  • angle between the legs from zero to widely splayed, flexibility permitting
  • whether one or both heels are up
  • whether one leg is ahead of the other leg
  • whether one leg is straight (see lunging for where the trailing leg is straight)
  • whether squatting on one leg (can be seen in some situations by golfers)
  • whether the legs are crossed as with curtseying.

(See partial squats gallery for images.)



The demi-plié in ballet
The Besti squat in figure skating, legs splayed out wide
The Utkatasana pose in yoga

Partial squatting may be used in a wide variety of contexts sometimes as a "ready for action" posture:

For more partial squatting images see here.



A lunge is a variation of the partial squat where a leg is moved forwards with the knee bent but the other remains straight thus moving the upper body forward in line with the bent knee. For example:

Walking while partial squattingEdit
US Airmen duck walk with their weapons held atop of their heads during the Air Force Pararescuemen Indoctrination "Hell Week" Course.

Stalking, prowling and duckwalking is walking that maintains a low profile by assuming a low partial squatting position.[53] It is a stage element of guitar showmanship popularized by Chuck Berry.[54][55]

Duckwalking is used to strengthen the ankles and thighs. It is also a test of balance, flexibility, and agility.[56]

The duckwalk is one out of 25 exercises in the physical test at United States Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPS). The duckwalk tests to see if a trainee is flat footed or if it hurts to perform the exercise. It also makes sure that the trainee has proper ranges of motion. Trainees who fail the duckwalk are temporarily suspended from MEPS and have to try again at a later date.[57][58]

Walking while squatting is common in the Russian squat dance.[59][60]


Squatting features heavily in some forms of dancing such as the Russian squat dance – (see partial squats gallery for images).

Health effectsEdit

There is increased incidence of knee osteoarthritis amongst squatters who squat for hours a day for many years.[61] There is evidence that sustained squatting may cause bilateral peroneal nerve palsy. A common name for this affliction is squatter's palsy although there may be reasons other than squatting for this to occur.[62][63][64] For richer societies who rarely squat, squatting as a different posture may bring health benefits.[65]

Tetralogy of FallotEdit

Older children will often squat during a Tetralogy of Fallot "tet spell". This increases systemic vascular resistance and allows for a temporary reversal of the shunt. It increases pressure on the left side of the heart, decreasing the right to left shunt thus decreasing the amount of deoxygenated blood entering the systemic circulation.[66][67]

Squatting facetsEdit

The existence of squatting facets on the distal tibia and talar articular surfaces of skeletons, which result from contact between the two bones during hyperdorsiflexion, have been used as markers to indicate if that person habitually squatted.[68][69]

Image galleryEdit

Full squatsEdit

With heels of both feet downEdit

With heels of both feet upEdit

With one heel up and one downEdit

Heel-down squat/kneel combinationEdit

Heel-up squat/kneel combinationEdit

Partial squatsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Hewes, GW (April 1955). "World distribution of certain postural habits". American Anthropologist. 57 (2): 231–44. doi:10.1525/aa.1955.57.2.02a00040. JSTOR 666393.
  2. ^ Dobrzynski, Judith H. (17 October 2004). "An Eye on China's Not So Rich and Famous". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  3. ^ Online etymology dictionary
  4. ^ Slentz K, Krogh S Early Childhood Development and Its Variations (2001)
  5. ^ Kasuyama, Tatsuya, Masaaki Sakamoto, and Rie Nakazawa. "Ankle Joint Dorsiflexion Measurement Using the Deep Squatting Posture." Journal of Physical Therapy Science 21.2 (2009): 195–99.
  6. ^ Krause DA, Cloud BA, Forster LA, Schrank JA, Hollman JH. "Measurement of ankle dorsiflexion: a comparison of active and passive techniques in multiple positions". Journal of Sport Rehabilitation 2011 Aug; 20(3): 333–44.
  7. ^ Ausinheiler B The number 1 reason why people find deep squatting difficult 27 Nov 2012
  8. ^ Mauss, Marcel. Les Techniques du corps 1934. Journal de Psychologie 32 (3–4). Reprinted in Mauss, Sociologie et anthropologie, 1936, Paris: PUF.
  9. ^ Bookspan, Jolie. "Save knees when squatting". Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  10. ^ See "Catcher's Stance" at
  11. ^ The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket, Oxford, Melbourne, 1996, p. 100.
  12. ^ a b Ханипов Р. «Гопники» – значение понятия, и элементы репрезентации субкультуры «гопников» в России // "Social Identities in Transforming Societies"
  13. ^ WeirdRussia: Why is Adidas so Popular Among Russians?
  14. ^ Why Slavs Squat
  15. ^ Slav Squat – Russian Disturbing Street Trend
  16. ^ "Urban Dictionary: russian squat". Urban Dictionary. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  17. ^ How to squat like Slav
  18. ^ Love D Russia totally reinvented the rap squat? The Daily Dot 24 Jun 2015
  19. ^ Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Rap Squats but Were Afraid to Ask
  20. ^ Cabatingan L Trend Alert: Gang Signs are Out, Rap Squats Are In IX Daily 15 Sep 2014
  21. ^ Owling – is it the new planking? Metro News 15 Jul 2011
  22. ^ a b Panati, Charles (1991). Panati's Parade of Fads, Follies, and Manias. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-06-055191-9. OCLC 24318503.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h Staff writers (9 November 1959). "Hanker to Hunker?". Time Magazine. LXXIV (19). Archived from the original on 16 November 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ A Father’s Photo Reignites the Conversation About Diaper Changing Stations New York Times 05 Oct 2018
  27. ^ Photo of dad changing nappy in squat position goes viral BBC News 04 Oct 2018
  28. ^ Engelmann GJ Labor among primitive peoples (1883)
  29. ^ Russell JG. "Moulding of the pelvic outlet." J Obstet Gynaecol Br Commonw 1969; 76: 817–20.
  30. ^ "Balaskas J Using the squatting position during labour and for birth" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  31. ^ Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The complete gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 152–53. ISBN 978-0-500-05120-7.
  32. ^ "Discovery Health Sexual Positions". Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  33. ^ Asian Cowgirl Sex Position
  34. ^ Reverse Asian Cowgirl Sex Position
  35. ^ a b "Kidney infection - Treatment". National Health Service. 4 January 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2019. If you have a kidney infection, try not to "hover" over the toilet seat when you go to the loo because it can result in your bladder not being fully emptied.
  36. ^ a b "5 Bathroom Mistakes That Can Lead To Pelvic Floor Dysfunction". HuffPost Canadian version. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2019. Hovering Over The Toilet
  37. ^ a b "Here's the most hygienic way to use a toilet, according to Science". 24 November 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  38. ^ Yang Chengfu (1931), Taijiquan Shiyongfa (Application methods of Taijiquan)
  39. ^ Yang Chengfu (1934), Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu (Complete Book of the Essence and Applications of Taijiquan)
  40. ^ Yang Chengfu and Louis Swaim, tr. (2005). The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-55643-545-4.
  41. ^ 5 Yoga Tips to Open Up the Hips
  42. ^ "Garland Pose". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  43. ^ A Marksman’s Guide to the Squatting Position
  44. ^ "The Monkey Squat". Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  45. ^ Pilates – Monkey squat
  46. ^ "Lifting technique". Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  47. ^ Judith Martin (2005). Miss Manners' guide to excruciatingly correct behavior. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 692. ISBN 978-0-393-05874-1.
  48. ^ "ISU Communication No. 1445". Archived from the original on 22 October 2007.
  49. ^ Twerk, Oxford Dictionaries Online. Retrieved 28 August 2013
  50. ^ Tarian Tradisional|Johor State Government Official Portal Archived 23 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  51. ^ Robbins A Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities (2005)
  52. ^ Sorority squat
  53. ^ Duck walk
  54. ^ Guitar Gods: The 25 Players Who Made Rock History. ABC-CLIO. 2008. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-313-35806-7. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  55. ^ Chuck Berry duck walk
  56. ^ Erickson, Rose. "Walking like a duck exercise". Healthy Living. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  57. ^ "MEPS: Physical Exam". TodaysMilitary. Department of defence. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  58. ^ "Meps at a Glance". Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  59. ^ "Русская пляска: хоровод, кадриль, танок, калинка, барыня, казачок, присядка". Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  60. ^ "Русский танец присядка - немного истории". Россияне - ансамбль русского танца (in Russian). 11 December 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  61. ^ Liu CM, Xu L (2007). "Retrospective study of squatting with prevalence of knee osteoarthritis"Template:ISSN missing
  62. ^ Macpherson JM, Gordon AJ (1983). "Squatter's palsy" British Medical Journal
  63. ^ Kumaki DJ. "The facts of Kathmandu: squatter's palsy". Journal of the American Medical Association 2 Jan 1987; 257(1): 28.
  64. ^ Toğrol, E. (2000). "Bilateral peroneal nerve palsy induced by prolonged squatting". Military Medicine. 165 (3): 240–2. PMID 10741091.
  65. ^ Spinks, Rosie (9 November 2017). "The forgotten art of squatting is a revelation for bodies ruined by sitting". Quartz (publication). Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  66. ^ Murakami T (2002). "Squatting: the hemodynamic change is induced by enhanced aortic wave reflection". Am. J. Hypertens. 15 (11): 986–88. doi:10.1016/S0895-7061(02)03085-6. PMID 12441219.
  67. ^ Guntheroth WG, Mortan BC, Mullins GL, Baum D. Am "Venous return with knee-chest position and squatting in tetralogy of Fallot". Heart J. 1968 Mar; 75(3): 313–18.
  68. ^ Barnett CH "Squatting facets on the European talus" J Anat. 1954 October; 88 (Pt 4): 509–13.
  69. ^ Trinkaus E "Squatting among the neandertals: A problem in the behavioral interpretation of skeletal morphology" Journal of Archaeological Science Volume 2, Issue 4, December 1975, pp. 327–51

Further readingEdit

Resting position

Dynamic exercise


  • Gardosi J., Hutson N Randomised, Controlled Trial Of Squatting In the Second Stage of Labour 1989 The Lancet, Volume 334, Issue 8654, pp. 74–77
  • McKay S. Squatting: An Alternate Position For The Second Stage Of Labour The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing 1984; 9: 181–83.
  • Nasir A., Korejo R., Noorani K.J. Child birth in squatting position. Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association 2007/1; 57: 19–22
  • Paciornik M., Paciornik C., Birth in the Squatting Position (1979) Polymorph Films
  • Paciornik M., Paciornik C., Commentary: arguments against episiotomy and in favor of squatting for birth. Birth 1990 Dec; 17(4): 234, 236. and Birth 1991 Jun; 18(2): 119.
  • Paciornik M Use of the squatting position for birth. Birth 1992 Dec; 19(4): 230–31.

Health effects

  • Chakravarty A, Chatterjee S.K., Chakrabarti S. Blood pressure changes during squatting – a study in normal subjects and its possible clinical significance. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India. 2001 Jun; 49( ): 678–79


  • O'Donnell TV, McIlroy MB. The circulatory effects of squatting. American Heart Journal 1962 Sep; 64: 347–56.
  • Sharpey-Schafer EP Effects of Squatting on the Normal and Failing Circulation Br Med J. 12 May 1956; 1(4975): 1072–74.

External linksEdit