As I’ve mentioned before, squatting is a natural human ability.
Before modern day furniture, the squat was the go to resting position. In some countries it still is, earning the name “the third world squat”.
Kids first learn how to squat before they can walk. It’s what allows you to get up and move.
Squatting also helps you get down to the ground and pick things up. Think about when you are at the supermarket and you want to buy something that’s on the ground shelf and have to reach for it.
Believing that squatting is bad, and not doing anything to maintain this basic functional movement, will put serious limitation on your functional independence and quality of life.
How will your life look like when you can’t get out of a chair, or even use the toilet anymore?
Take a second and think about that…
Good, let’s move on.
Where does the idea of squats being bad come from?
- Pain or Fear of Pain
It’s common to hear people say that squats are bad for your knees.
It’s either because they have experienced knee pain during squatting, or maybe they’ve heard it from a friend or some guy at the gym.
Is it true?
First off, squatting is hard.
Ask a regular person with no/average fitness abilities to do a bodyweight squat, and chances are, it’s going to be awkward.
If you spend most of your time at the desk or on the couch, your bodyweight weight will be supported by the chair most of the time.
As a result, you hips, thighs and back will get tight causing you to lose your range of motion.
Not only that, but your muscles will lose their ability to activate properly and work together, leading to poor coordination.
In time, you body simply forgets how to squat correctly.
Not taking some time to fix this issue, will lead to performing squats with bad form and on the long term, cause pain.
When it comes to squatting, flexibility and mobility are only part of the story.
Anatomy plays a huge role, each individual being unique in his own way.
For that reason, squatting must be adapted to a person’s needs.
If you are curious about how your body moves during a squat and how anatomy ties into it, check out the video from coach Bret Contreras.
Another common mistake that can lead to knee pain is the way you’ve been taught to squat.
If you are following the advice to “break at the knees”, chances are you will be leading with your knees, putting a lot of pressure on them.
Initiating the movement by “breaking at the hips”, like sitting back in a chair, is much more effective since it will shift your hips back and not put as much pressure on your knees.
To learn more about squat technique, check out this video by strength coach Mike Boyle.
- Injury or Fear of Injury
This usually involves the fear of hurting your lower back, especially if you are doing barbell squats.
If you have poor technique, and your core is not strong enough yet to brace and protect your lower back, you can expose yourself to the risk of damaging your spine.
The issue here has more to do with the ego, then with the squat.
Being patient, learning first how to do a bodyweight squat, then adding load to it, can prove to be quite a challenge for some.
The takeaway here is that you shouldn’t put the blame on the exercise.
Take a look at what you are doing and see if it looks right.
Squatting is an excellent exercise to do, since it’s highly demanding and can speed up your results.
Take some time, learn the skill, get strong and stay safe.
Article written by Razvan Dan Ene, MD. Razvan writes at Strength Therapy, where he helps people develop a healthy mind and body with a step by step approach. When you feel ready to take action, get his free special report.
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