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Are Squats Bad for Your Knees?

Written by Coach Rob
Some medical professionals warn against the perils of squatting too deep. I call BS.
The myth that squatting deep is bad for your knees started back in the 60's and has been perpetuated by many experts ever since. In 1962, Sports Illustrated published an article detailing the findings of a Dr. Karl Klein that claimed deep squatting stretched the ligaments of the knee. The title was pretty hilarious in hindsight, "The knee is not for bending." Thankfully since then our research on this topic has grown. And now we can better assess the loads placed on the knee and surrounding ligaments when performing a deep squat. We find that squatting deep places very little stress on the knee when performed within correct technique.
"ACL injuries are common in popular American sports such as football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, etc. The stress to the ACL during a squat is actually highest during the first 4 inches of the squat descent (when the knee is bent around 15-30°). As depth increases the forces placed on the ACL significantly decrease. In fact, the highest forces ever measured on the ACL during a squat has only been found to be around 25% of its ultimate strength (the force needed to tear the ligament)."
With all that said, I do not recommend everyone start squatting deep without the following considerations:
  1. Previous Injury - If an athlete has a prior injury and feels pain when squatting, the range of motion should be reduced until the athlete has healed up and can perform full depth squats without pain.
  2. Mobility and Form - if an athlete is unable to perform a full depth bodyweight squat, he should under no circumstances squat with external loading. Proper mechanics and range of motion should be built up first.

One way to minimize knee pain during a squat is to consciously focus on a "hips back" cue. If you don't load the hips before the knees during the descent of your squat, you will feel extra stress in the knee. I recommend a step down single leg squat and abductor strengthening exercises as a great way to build proper technique and fight knee pain. Please ask Coach Jesse or Rob if you want to know more about these exercises.

"Frequently, we encounter individuals whose healthcare professional has told them not to squat. In nearly every instance this is pure ignorance on the part of the practitioner. When a doctor that doesn’t like the squat is asked, 'by what method should your patient get off of the toilet?' they are at a loss for words."
Happy Squatting! 

Group Class Programming for Monday, May 22nd, 2017:

1. SEAL 10

2. Deadlift 3-3-3-3-3
*perform as 3 single reps 
*hold for 20 seconds at DL3 on the 3rd rep for sets 1-3
*return barbell to floor (do not drop) after every set
*perform L-Sit, Tuck Sit, or appropriate movements for 15s after each set

Perform as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:
10 Seated dumbbell Press w/ 3 sec. hold at dPR2
20 Walking Lunge Steps

Perform as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:
10 Down Dog Push-ups
20 Walking Lunge Steps w dumbbells (15/10#)

Perform as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:
10 Strict Handstand Push-ups
20 Walking Lunge Steps w/ dumbbells (25/15#)

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