Living below parallel has a particular meaning to me, it refers to that part of a squat where the crease of your hip is below your knee or below parallel. In the not too distant past my excess weight and almost complete lack of mobility severely limited what I could do and where I could go, I couldn’t pick anything up off of the ground, I could hardly bend at the waist for more than a moment without getting light-headed. I had to do something. Something drastic, something epic, something awesome. Laying down and dying was not an option, but it was just around the corner and I knew it.
The first time I tried to run 200 yards, about 3 years ago, I had to stop at least 5 times to get my breath. I kept at it, every day, well 5 days a week, they couldn’t keep me out of the gym. I would finish last every time we ran something, but I always finished. In fact, if the workout was going to run over the hour allotted I would do whatever running was involved first, so that I got that in. Three years later, I am not a whole lot faster than I was when I started but my personal best is 6k without stopping averaging right around 11 minutes a mile.
So what does running have to do with squatting? Like developing your wind, getting back mobility in your joints and posterior chain takes time and effort and a good deal of pain, the use of the word foam to describe the foam roller used to work out tight muscles and mobilize less than mobile joints is deceiving in that you would think that something made out of foam would be soft, however, while you are using it you would swear it wouldn’t hurt any less if it were made out of ice picks and razor blades. Once you finally get ‘below parallel’ then the fun starts, now you can go there every single day, and spend quite a bit of time there, and you will.
Before I had some mobility back I couldn’t squat, once I regained some mobility I was still afraid to squat because it had become a new sensation to me. That and I had to regain strength in the knees, quads and hamstrings, I also learned some new words, hip adductors, piriformis, gemellus, gluteus minimus, adductor brevis and I learned that even tiny muscles can cause tremendous discomfort if they are neglected. After 3 years of intense coaching I am beginning to make friends with my body again and it is working with me instead of against me. It is a process. The more time I spend below parallel, the more at home with it I feel.