Not everyone can effectively pull off the perfect “Asian squat,” as some experts believe it has something to do with a person’s body shape or lack of ankle flexibility.
In a nutshell: The Asian squat is essentially a deep-squatting position in which a person’s soles are flat on the floor facing forward.
Why it’s “Asian”: When and why people started calling this squat “Asian” are unknown. However, this position has been reported to be common in Asia and nearly absent in the West, where some people began dubbing it the “Asian squat.”
A part of daily life: Squatting is a common sight in Asia, from locals relaxing outdoors to doing their everyday chores. It arguably provides its best benefits in the bathroom, however, as evidenced by the existence of squat toilets in some Asian countries.
Not everybody can do it: Although deep squatting is a fairly common posture in Asia and even in countries outside the continent — take the “Slav squat,” for example — not everybody can do it. Westerners, for one, are known to struggle with the position.
There’s also the case of age. Bahram Jam, a physical therapist in Toronto, told HuffPost last year that American children and teens can deep squat comfortably, but the skill becomes lost as they grow older in the Western world.
Why they can’t do it: Western adults may have trouble performing the Asian squat due to their own body shape. Bryan Ausinheiler, a physical therapist in California, told The Atlantic in 2018 that short limbs make it easier to balance, a conclusion he came to following tests he had run on his own brothers. Another possible explanation is an intrinsic lack of capacity for ankle dorsiflexion — or moving your foot closer to your knee — according to a study by Japanese researchers.
From about 60 degrees in the neonatal period, the capacity for passive ankle dorsiflexion drops to about 20 degrees in adulthood, according to another study. This suggests that without practice, one loses the ability to perform the Asian squat with age.
Why do it: Besides aiding in bowel movement, the Asian squat has other reported benefits for the body. These include strengthening core and lower body muscles, developing lower body mobility, helping pregnant women during labor, relieving lower back and knee joint pains and improving overall posture.