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The Squat

Dec 06, 2022

The squat is a fundamental movement everyone should be able to perform.  This is one of the first movements we screen in our patients with any lower body issue.  If someone cannot effectively lower their hips, without undue stress on their knees or over rounding their back, they should start there. 


The squat is a foundational movement for many other exercises.  It’s involved in the setup for a kettlebell swing, the beginning of a slight dip before pushing overhead in a push press, the position you catch the weight when olympic lifting, how you plant your feet after a burpee, even how you jump and land.  


If you watch a two year old move, they often are able to squat down with perfect form.  They seem to already have the foot position and balance figured out when they sit down to the bottom position.  This seems to degrade over time as the child grows into adulthood and spends more time in a chair with their hips and knees in a static 90 degree position.  (Tissues are really good at becoming the range you tell them they are.)  This starts the beginning of someone’s stiffness journey that will have to be undone several years later in life.   


We have been informed by patients they were told squatting is bad for your knees by other healthcare providers.  We are unsure as to what information they have used to arrive at this conclusion.  If this is the case, how would you get off the toilet or out of your arm chair?  How would you go to the bathroom in a foreign country where toilets are uncommon?  We believe incorrect squatting is bad for your knees.  This typically involves your knees moving inward or greatly moving beyond the front of your toes when descending.  When squatting, your hips lowering should be the start of the movement, not your knees being pushed forward.  


We have found correct squatting to actually be protective for knee issues.  Planting your feet (use your toes), rotating your hips to create stability, keeping a tight core, and moving with your hips first are the initial principles to follow.  Following these directions can help reduce the amount of force your knee receives.  Working with correct form will strengthen muscles in your legs and likely help your knees.  If you need to increase the difficulty, you can always slow the movement.

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