The deep squat at the edge of the Amazon

The city of Tena in Ecuador is an entry point to the Amazon jungle. I have seen no consistent differences from typcial western posture. I had two opportunites to see how people live outside the farm. First I met a Huarani elder (probably in his late 60s) who came to  Gareno Lodge in the jungle. The Huarani are a native Amazonian tribe, traditionally they slept in hammocks and did not use chairs or tables. As a result they did a lot of deep squatting. This is no longer the case for the youth in the tribe. I asked this elder to do the deep squat test described below and….

He failed.

But not for lack of ankle dorsiflexion, of this he had 45 plus degrees. He could not bring his hands over his head because he was unable to extend his spine, he was stuck in flexion. When he sat on a bench he was in posterior pelvic tilt, and spinal flexion and this was exaggerated further when he was squatting.

I asked him if he had pain anywhere but could not get a clear answer because he spoke very little spanish. He said when he has pain he rubs a certain plant on it, he rubbed his knees while he explained this. Any further questioning about pain resulted in this same response.

From this interview I can discern that he was not crippled by back pain resulting from his flexed spinal posture, but he was not living a pain free existence either.

My second interview was with a 72 year old Quechua farmer. Jessica and I spent two days with this man in his farmhouse with no tables or chairs. He sat with upright posture but squatted with spinal flexion. I asked about pain and he said his back only hurts when he is sitting around the house all day doing nothing, but never hurts when his is out working on his farm.

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