T Nation

SQUAT And Knees!

okay my friend goes to a physiotherapy guy because he injured his back while snowboarding, so today my friend says get this “I ask my physiotherapist and said not to squat low at all. the low portion of the squat uses muscle that aren’t solicited often and only causes problems to knees. Only the 1/4 portion of the squat is good if you don’t bend your back, you can use more weight so it’s better. so from then on I’ll only use the 1/4 squat.”

I always squat a little below parrallel and sometimes ass to the grass.
What can I say?
then I went to Dr.Squat and he says squating is bad for the knees.
so is squatiing bad for the knees?
whats the deal?
someone should sticky a post on most forum about this subject because it’s asked alot.

thx

Someone should smack that physio.

Holo
I think you’ll find it almost unanimous that deep squats are, in fact, the best way to go. With proper form of course!
In fact I recently read an article that suggested stopping short of parallel could be harmful because you are using your knees as a brake therby causing undo stress. Most literature would probably say it’s ok to do partials on occasion just to break a plateau or to get used to heavy weight on your shoulders, but few would say that going deep is a bad thing. Full ROM stimulates more fibers=more growth.

In discussions with an orthopod his comments were (not that I believe deep squats are bad, but these are…as best as I can tell factual comments…how significant they are for you is another issue):

  1. The menisci cushion the weight transer between your thighbone and leg bone. When you are standing up straight the weight is distributed over the whole meniscus. When you are ass to grass you are transferring all the weight through a very small portion of the meniscus.

  2. Likewise although I can’t quite visualize this as well, ass to grass also transfers the load through the patellar-femoral joint through a smaller area. Which one has to wonder if it would be relevant if you already have chondromalacia (arthritis of the patella-femoral joint).

I recently was told by a fellow gym goer that my squatting was going to put too much stress on my knees as well.

Now, his issue was with my form. Admitedly I have worries that my form may be bad, as I’ve always trained by myself, and have taught myself best I can from pictures and video on the web.

He said I was leaning foreward on my knees and bending my back, wheras I supposedly should be keeping my back relatively perpendicular to the ground and sitting backwords. Does this make sense to anyone? I know that is loosely what is done with wide stance squats but he was advising this for narrow-moderate squats as well.

This has really eaten at me, since it means alot to me to get strict form, but yet I find it hard without someone looking on, who I can trust is going to steer me right.

If you squat with a narrow stance you sould squat between your legs and keeping you trunk as vertical as you can. There’s an awesome explanation of oly style back squat on Dan John’s site.

[quote]Moon Knight wrote:
I recently was told by a fellow gym goer that my squatting was going to put too much stress on my knees as well.

Now, his issue was with my form. Admitedly I have worries that my form may be bad, as I’ve always trained by myself, and have taught myself best I can from pictures and video on the web.

He said I was leaning foreward on my knees and bending my back, wheras I supposedly should be keeping my back relatively perpendicular to the ground and sitting backwords. Does this make sense to anyone? I know that is loosely what is done with wide stance squats but he was advising this for narrow-moderate squats as well.

This has really eaten at me, since it means alot to me to get strict form, but yet I find it hard without someone looking on, who I can trust is going to steer me right.[/quote]
Relatively being the key
You will get some bend at the waist, but what I do is:
break at the hips and sit your butt back, don’t just start by bending your knees. Keep your head level and drop to a sitting type position to knees parallel. Load your hams and hips as you drop, and blow the weight up through your heels. Lighten your load and give the drop a 2 or 3 count to get used to the feel of pushing yourbutt back. This mindset has really brought out some nice size and strength gains in my legs the past 5-6 mos.

I didn’t say, nor do I believe that squats are bad for your knees. Docs are frequently ignorant. However in this case as best I can tell the points he made about relative distributions of force during different kinds of squats are correct.

Thanks for the advice guys.

I’ve read the Dan John piece I believe thats being referred to, where he suggests practicing by holding onto a doorknob. Great stuff as usual from him.

There are too many factors in a “squat” to say what a good squat is.If you are an Olympic lifter then it is below parallel.Powerlifter, at least parallel.Bodybuilder, 90-110 degrees.Jumper, %25 of sets to parallel,%75 of sets approximating max jump depth,and on and on and on…It depends on what your goals are and what you are willing to risk.

That is about the EXERCISE!Now,build.It depends on your tibial length vs. femur length vs torso length/bar placement and foot placement as to what is an appropriate depth as far as risk vs benefit.Some people just arent designed to squat well.It is like telling a 6’4" 220 lbs man he will never be a great horse jockey.If you are not built to squat,just fucking get over it.Grow a sack and learn to deadlift like a man;become a badass a hang cleans/whatever!

Excuses:This is not an excuse to be a big pussy and not even try to be a big squater.Get checked out by someone who does exercise biomechanics( a RTS certified individual would be one).You may have the mechanics, just shitty, weak inflexibly hams.If that is the case,spend a year mastering the barbell Good Morning and the front squat.EVERYBODY can front squat deeper than back squat,at whatever level of flexibility.If your “tail tucks” when you squat you ARE too weak or to inflexible or lacking in skill.Just put the egos in check and see if a diet of heavy(long term) barbell good mornings and front squats cant fix what stops you from deep squatting.

So it isnt a simple " how deep". It is GOAL, training age, style, mechanics of the body, weaknesses of the body, etc.Saying you should squat this deep is like saying a bench press is a bench press.Say that to a competative powerlifter and see how hard you get laughed at…peace

I won’t say that the physiotherapist is wrong or right, but I’ve been doing squats below parallel since the mid-80s using bodyweight up to double bodyweight with no problem with my knees as a direct result from squatting.

I have had problems with my knees however. I have Osgood Schlatter’s disease. First got it in 87 after 2 yrs of playing soccer year round. After easing up and dealing with the pain, it doesn’t bother me pain wise. It just looks funky. Until scientific research says that squats cause Osgood Schlatter’s, my doctor’s diagnosis still stands with excessive “cutting” on the field during a period of maturity or growing.

what i found to work even with myself and others with knee issues and squatting is (i think CP said this ) to keep constant tension in the muscles even in teh bottom position of the squat.

[quote]
then I went to Dr.Squat and he says squating is bad for the knees.
so is squatiing bad for the knees?
whats the deal?

someone should sticky a post on most forum about this subject because it’s asked alot.

thx[/quote]

I assume this is the Dr. Squat article you are talking about? In it he says yes they can be the cause of knee pain if your a body-builder, BUT, they can save your knees if your an athlete.

I am not going to debate whether or not squatting is bad for your knees because I’m sure the answer is “yes and no”. Yes: If your biomechanics is wrong, if you have muscle imbalances, etc. No: If you can do them with ease, proper mechanics, and the like. So I guees you could say it is all dependent upon how the squat fits into the rest of your workout program. And Remember, your workout program should be designed to bring up your weakness(es) to achieve maximum performance. (Before I get jumped on by non-athletes on this site, maximum performance can range from an athletic event to looking great and feeling great).

So, is the squat bad for your knees? MAYBE (just want you wanted to hear eh?) . But, I think the point many who debate this topic all allude to is if it is bad for your knees there are underlying reason(s) as to why, and that/those reason(s) should take priority in your regime anyways.

Now, with that out of the way, and not to hijack the thread, I have a question for all of the “westside” style squatters on the forum. With regards to the link above, what are your thoughts concerning Dr. Hatfields’s comments on as to why the feet should never point straight ahead (because over-recruitment of the adductors can lead to MCL damage, abnormal cartilage loading, and improper patellar tracking)? I ask this because I am under the impression (assuming I am remembering what I read correctly) that with the westside style of squat, it is advocated to point the feet straight ahead and try to spread a part the floor to FURTHER recruit the adductors in an effort to lift more weight.

I am not saying that style of set up is wrong, just curious if those who squat that way knew of those potential side-effects, and your thoughts on those comments?

Cheers,

Tags

[quote]Holo wrote:
so is squatiing bad for the knees?
whats the deal?

thx[/quote]

If you really want to read a bunch of information on this, go join the Supertraining group on Yahoo! and read the archives:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Supertraining

To make a long story short Dr. Siff de-fucking-stroys the arguments against against full squats. He also takes on Pilates, HIT, drawing the belly-button towards the spine during squatting, and a bunch of other BS.

One of the points he made over and over is that the forces seen during maximal squatting are less than those seen in running and jumping. That little revelation really puts the debate in perspective, as you’ll never hear anyone argue passionately against running and jumping like you’ll hear them argue against squats.

Nick

It could be the physio was saying this in relation to his injured back, and by doing a 1/4 squat, may add strength.

possibility.

or he is taliking out os an orifice.

no he was talking about knees I can’t wait to see what Siff has to say.

and the Dr.Hatfield article is “KNEED”

[quote]CaptnJ wrote:
what i found to work even with myself and others with knee issues and squatting is (i think CP said this ) to keep constant tension in the muscles even in teh bottom position of the squat. [/quote]

I’m with you on this one. I’ve found that I need to tighten up the quads more than would be necessary for a controlled descent, starting at about 90 degrees. Otherwise, I may get sore knees.

My knees were pretty wrecked at one time from basketball - lots of soreness, fluid build-up, and cracking-and-popping. They slowly improved over several years of doing no running or leg work, but not to the point of being normal. Though I have no proof, I’m fairly convinced that deep squats with (eventually) heavy weight “fixed” them the rest of the way.

tags, thanks for the reference to the yahoo group. sounds like a great source that i have been missing out on.

[quote]Tags wrote:

Now, with that out of the way, and not to hijack the thread, I have a question for all of the “westside” style squatters on the forum. With regards to the link above, what are your thoughts concerning Dr. Hatfields’s comments on as to why the feet should never point straight ahead (because over-recruitment of the adductors can lead to MCL damage, abnormal cartilage loading, and improper patellar tracking)? I ask this because I am under the impression (assuming I am remembering what I read correctly) that with the westside style of squat, it is advocated to point the feet straight ahead and try to spread a part the floor to FURTHER recruit the adductors in an effort to lift more weight.

I am not saying that style of set up is wrong, just curious if those who squat that way knew of those potential side-effects, and your thoughts on those comments?

Cheers,

Tags[/quote]

you are misunderstanding the westside style. The westside or sumo squat is designed to load the hips and hams by “spreading the floor” you are activating the ABductors not the ADductors. your knees should move to the side when this happens as you weight your heels and lateral(outside of your feet) in turn causing the legs to move laterally. If you go to most gyms in the world and see weak and poorly flexible(tight hamstrings especially as well as overly tight ADductors) people squat way to much weight you will see the very motion that Hatfield is speaking of. This is were the individual hits the bottom of their squat usually not deep, as they begin their ascent knees buckle toward the centerline of their body. When the knees move inward the medial colateral ligament is stressed as the medial portion of the femur and tibial plataeu are seperated. Picture two pieces of 2x4 standing on end with one end balanced on the other. Now if you pushed the point where the two boards square ends meet to the left (as if your right leg moved inward) you will see the left side open up, now imagine a rubber band stretched over that area (this being your medial colateral ligament) and being stretched even more as the boards are pushed farther inward. While that is happenning your patellae would being moving laterally (to the outside or to the right on your right knee and the left on the left knee) creating a tracking problem and potential injury to knee, especially with repitition. this would also overload the lateral meniscus. Hope this helped. Westside or sumo is actually easier on the knees than close stance squatting with a quad dominant knee first move. Hope this helped

thanks mejho.

When I typed adductors last I actually meant abductors, and had that reference in my head the whole time when I read Hatfields’s article. I am aware that Westside style is to recruit the hip/ham musculature more, and mis-took add for ab. In any case that was still a pretty sweet explanation you gave, so thank you for that.

Cheers,

Tags