Being Asian…and Unable to do the Asian Squat…

I am Asian. It’s not hard to tell that I’m Asian: I have the typical almond shaped eyes and straight black hair.

But I can’t do the Asian squat… (awkward)

Before we continue, what is the Asian squat? Here is an example:


The Asian squat is squatting with heels touching the ground and bum touching the heels. No matter the country, Asians can be seen doing the Asian squat comfortably anywhere and everywhere.

Which then begs the question…why can’t I, an Asian, do the Asian squat? Whenever I try to do the squat, I feel a pressure on the top of my feet and stop a couple of inches from the floor naturally. But when I try to push my stubborn heels to the floor, I fall over backwards.

My mom couldn’t believe me when I told her that I couldn’t Asian squat. I had to show her my fail in order for her to believe it. And even then, she was confused at my inability to do something she could do without much effort.

I asked a friend who was a nurse why I couldn’t Asian squat (she’s Korean) and she said that it was because my Achilles heels were too tight. But was it really them?- I showed her my attempt at squatting and she was confused and changed her diagnosis saying that maybe the reason why was because I was raised differently than my parents’ generation.

Which makes sense, I suppose. My parents grew up in the age of going to the bathroom outside with squat toilets, so obviously squatting like that would be more convinient. But at the same time, what about the younger generation of Korean now who can still squat?-

WAS I SOME SORT OF FREAK OF NATURE?! No, I would not accept that as an explanation. So, my student side came out naturally and I decided to investigate the scientific hypothesis of the Asian squat, the Achilles’ tendon.


The Achilles’ tendon is one of the longest tendons and is a springy muscle stretching from the calf muscles to above the heel. It is responsible for the extension of the foot and the ability of pointing the foot to the floor.

What’s interesting is that the symptoms of an injury to the Achilles’ tendon is the same pain I feel when I try to do the Asian squat, except in the case of an injury to the tendon, pain is felt when standing on one’s toes. So perhaps then for me, my Achilles’ tendon is too tense?

Turns out, that’s the answer! (phew~) In ‘The Science and History of the Asian Squat,’ it is actually proposed that EVERYONE can do the Asian squat if only they stretch their calf muscles more. Westerners (and I suppose second generation Asians as well) have shorter calf muscles because they don’t squat as often as Asians do. The good news is that this can easily be fixed with stretching two to three times a week.

So there’s hope for me to one day do a full-on Asian squat! What a relief~

(all research from


4 thoughts on “Being Asian…and Unable to do the Asian Squat…”

  1. I don’t entirely agree with you. I’ve spent my childhood in Asia while attending Chinese schools, and every morning we all have to squat during the morning meeting. And despite having to do that for several years, I still can’t do the squat properly and had to tip toe throughout the whole meeting. Maybe you should consider the genetic factor?

    1. It’s been a while since I wrote this and since then, I’ve seen more Asians who can’t squat and aren’t necessarily diaspora. So I think genetics are a thing to it and maybe also muscles? Not sure. But ouch that sounds really rough, having to tip toe throughout the morning meeting…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s