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Pistols with Knee Issues

Hi everyone!

“Bodybuilding Training” seemed general enough for powerlifters, olympic lifters and all other kinds of athletes to look into, so I’ve decided to ask here.

I’ve been having some knee issues for the last two years now, basically it comes down to overused menisci and a minimal cartilage lesion in my right knee. Today, I had a talk with my doctor because of a more recent injury (a ligament rupture at the ankle). After agreeing on a further course to take in regards of the ankle, he examined my knee and looked at the MRT pictures.

Then, he had me do pistols in order to check wheter there could be a problem due to a weak
vastus medialis. There wasn’t, of course, but what he said somewhat bugged me.

You see, I tend to squat ass-to-the-grass, so almost all of the time I squat deep. When I did my instructors course, they taught us that deep squatting was beneficial to knee-health, while squatting in a more powerlifting-like manner, knees bent at 90 degree is detrimental. It had to do with the force produced while switching from the excentric phase to the concentric phase and the impact it had on the knees while they’re locked at a right angle.

Now today the doc told me that I shouldn’t be squatting deep, but stop at 90 degree, so not to ruin my knees.

So now it’s up. How do I save my knees while squatting? Deep squats? Shallow squats? Doesn’t matter?

I’d love to read your opinions on that one (especially the explanations, of course).

ARe you a field sports athlete of some sort. It kinda stands to reason that if you have knee problems and now ankle problems, that you probably have something more going on then using the wrong squat depth.

Also, as far as squatting goes, there is more to it than just depth. The shin angle is going to have a HUGE effect on the forces at the knee.

Also, stability is going to be more than just how strong your vastus medialus is. You have to look at your ankle stability as well as hip stability. And mobility is always important and related.

Im not really sure what the question is, because your title suggests something different. But here s my “un-expert” opinions based on my experience.

  1. Keeping your shins more vertical (as in pushing your hips back) will generally spare your knees.
  2. Slow down the eccentric speeds.
  3. Pistols are a good idea for someone with back problems, but probably not so much for someone with knee problems.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build up to them in some way, but jumping right into pistols sounds pretty risky to me.
4) A good alternative to pistols ATM would be step-ups, step downs, and single leg deadlifts.
5) Regular barbell deadlifts should be fine.
6) Listen to your DR. or get a 2nd opinion. ATG squats sounds cool and all, but its not for everyone.
7) Read up on mobility/stability, (theres some articles here) and assess where you might be lacking.

Thats a lot to think about, but the main things I would do, are avoid whats hurting, slow down the eccentrics, and figure out how to “fix” yourself OR your training so that you can continue to progress and get or stay healthy.

Thanks for your answer!

[quote]dankid wrote:
ARe you a field sports athlete of some sort. It kinda stands to reason that if you have knee problems and now ankle problems, that you probably have something more going on then using the wrong squat depth.
[/quote]

I’m not a field sports athlete, no. I’m a martial artist. I’ve messed up my ankle in sparring. Guy inside-reaped my leg, I tripped and the foot was twisted.

It’s not exactly like I’m jumping into them. As a matter of fact, I’m doing them with a 24kg kettlebell in rack position, my knee issues don’t really keep me from doing them (I notice no difference in pain duartion/intensity/frequency wheter I do pistols or not).

As for the form, I’ve attached a video. Unfortunately it’s low quality, took it with my mobile phone.

[quote]
4) A good alternative to pistols ATM would be step-ups, step downs, and single leg deadlifts.
5) Regular barbell deadlifts should be fine.
6) Listen to your DR. or get a 2nd opinion. ATG squats sounds cool and all, but its not for everyone.
7) Read up on mobility/stability, (theres some articles here) and assess where you might be lacking.

Thats a lot to think about, but the main things I would do, are avoid whats hurting, slow down the eccentrics, and figure out how to “fix” yourself OR your training so that you can continue to progress and get or stay healthy.[/quote]

Ok… now as I said, this all ain’t so much about me, since I’m doing my pistols. However, generally speaking, where’s the difference between deep and shallow squats when it comes to joint-longevity?

All I can offer is my knees never appreciated PL style squats.

Oh nice, your form is pretty good. Ive never had any problems really with my knees on either style. ATG seems to be a little more stress on my back, but that could be flexibility issues. Although it doesn’t go along with the popular belief, I think ATG squats can be potentially pretty brutal on your knees though.

I think just below paralell is a pretty good alternative to the two though.

Also, one thing for you to try, is 1-leg box squats. Set a box a little below paralell and sit down on the box. Put about half of your weight on the box, pause, and then stand up. It changes the movement a lot, and is a good way to switch it up every once in a while.

[quote]dankid wrote:
Oh nice, your form is pretty good.
[/quote]

Thank you! Actually I consider that form pretty bad, however, as you see I’m doing those pistols on judo mats, that’s where the instability comes from.

[quote]Ive never had any problems really with my knees on either style. ATG seems to be a little more stress on my back, but that could be flexibility issues. Although it doesn’t go along with the popular belief, I think ATG squats can be potentially pretty brutal on your knees though.
[/quote]

Yeah, that’s what my doc said. However, how comes ATG squats are more brutal on the knee than parallel squats?

Actually, I’m doing box-squats when using too much weight to squat deep. Also, I’ve though of something else (pretty sure someone’s done it before, however, I don’t know an official name, that’s why I call that exercise “hybrid squats”). Vid attached…

Thats a single-leg squat with knee tap. Theres an article on single leg training on figureathlete.com

I like that variation better, just because it allows you to control depth and involves more posterior chain.

As for why ATG is potentially harder on the knees? Im not sure. Im not a Physical Therapist or anything, but my best guess would be excessive sheer forces. Really any exercise that you take to an extreme ROM is going to be potentially dangerous. It depends on your body and whether your structures can handle it.

Also, you have to think about what you are training for and what is “functional” If your sport involves posititions similar to ATG squatting, then you should train for it, but if its not functional to your sport and potentially dangerous then it would be a good idea to avoid it.

I know a bit about martial arts, but not that much. I’d think there are very few times that you’d ever be in an ATG position, depending on what martial art you do.

If you are doing judo, I can imagine a situation where you are in the full guard position and you’d want to basically squat someone off of you. But for this, I’d think even leg press would be more functional.

Other than that, you probably need a good deal of stability, and flexibility, and power throughout the ROMs, but you dont really need a ton of strength at the ATG position.

Does this make sense?

[quote]dankid wrote:
Thats a single-leg squat with knee tap. Theres an article on single leg training on figureathlete.com

I like that variation better, just because it allows you to control depth and involves more posterior chain.
[/quote]

Cool, thank you. Quite frankly, I like the name “hybrid squat” somewhat better, I find it more convenient…

Yeah well maybe. That’s exactly what I’m asking for. Some precise, to-the-point (and if humanly possible) cross-referenced explanation.

Not exactly a judo player here. I’m just taking judo for the ground part. I’m more of a standup fighter myself, Judo (same as BJJ or wrestling) is an addition for me to spice things up a little and set up a base for MMA bouts. There’s quite some moments both in standup fighting and on the ground where ATG squatting power comes in handy. Besides, I consider the leg press the most “unfunctional” exercise ever invented (I know, there’s lots of ways to define functional).

[quote]
Other than that, you probably need a good deal of stability, and flexibility, and power throughout the ROMs, but you dont really need a ton of strength at the ATG position.

Does this make sense?[/quote]

Yes and now. See above. However, my question is: are ATG squats more dangerous than parallel ones? If so, why?