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Everyone from high school athletes to their grandparents can benefit from the regular practice of proper squats. It’s a foundational movement to activities of daily life (ADL) as well as most comprehensive exercise programs. But the discomfort that often comes with squats makes many wary of these exercises—especially those with knee issues. That’s natural; anyone with an injury will, and should, shy away from testing it too quickly. But with proper form and gradual pushing, it could be just the thing you need to strengthen the area.*
The important distinction is muscle discomfort versus joint pain. Challenging exercises are likely to produce a little muscular discomfort, but you shouldn’t experience joint pain. It’s true that improper or unsafe squat form may cause more harm than good, so let’s make sure you understand how to squat safely—especially if you have knee concerns—and what benefits you can expect. Don’t count out squats just yet!
For all of the above, it may also be helpful to turn the toes out a bit more (to 10 and 2 o’clock, for instance) and push through the heels to shift the work away from the knees to the hips.
Pain is the most obvious indication. As I mentioned above, joint pain should not accompany these exercises. If you’re having issues, or just unsure, grab a buddy to record or analyze your movement from the front, side, and rear to check your form. And of course, you can ask your gym’s personal trainer for help. They can also help with modifications specifically tailored to your body; or tap the ASK button in FitnessBuilder.
*If your personal trainer, orthopedist, physical therapist, chiropractor, or other sports therapy physician has prescribed a routine different from this article, take heed and do that one!
Resources: Clark and Lucett, 2011 – “Corrective Strategies for Knee Impairments.” NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training. Ed. Michael Clark and Scott Lucett. 1st ed. Mesa: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, a Wolters Kluwer Business, 2011. 269-279. Print.
This post was previously published on the Anytime Fitness blog. PumpOne and Anytime Fitness are both owned by Self Esteem Brands.
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