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The 'Squats Kill Your Knees' Article

Yo!

So I found this: www.ejbjs.org/cgi/reprint/44/6/1191.pdf

which is the original article purporting to show that squats ruin your knees (and states tartly that more “astute” coaches are keeping their charges from doing such evil things).

Coaches – comments? The figures for knee instability do seem quite damning and I am wondering if there are more up to date studies that refute this.

Thanks in Advance,

– jj

I just read the article. It makes a lot of assumptions. First being that stretched ligaments = instability. In reality stretched ligaments = mobility (of course to a point).

All the athletes that did squats, or had stretched ligaments, they even said had no history of knee problems. They said the problems develop later in life - an assumption they made. No study was done to prove this.

Then they say something stupid - squats should stop at parallel. That is when the knee is weakest. The hamstrings bring stability to your knee and engage when you drop below parallel. Kind of like when your biceps give stability to your elbow when doing dips.

In any case - they kind of state you need to be strong through out life to not see injuries in knees – well of course - it is not ligaments that ultimately provide stability to knees or any other joint. It is the muscle. If you have week muscle then you are more prone to injury. And I would venture to say - if your ligaments are short and have no mobility in them (not stretched) then you would be even more prone to injury. Because you would not be strong AND your ligaments would get jerked on more often and much harder.

What do others think?

[quote]mmllcc wrote:
Then they say something stupid - squats should stop at parallel. That is when the knee is weakest. The hamstrings bring stability to your knee and engage when you drop below parallel. [/quote]
That depends on your form when squatting. If you initiate the squat by sitting back then your hammies are engaged from the start.

Not that this is the most profound thing ever said, but I was talking with one of the kids I coached in the weightroom one night, and he was asking me about squats. In my explanation emphasizing the necessity of proper form and knowing what you’re doing, and being taught by someone who knows what theyre doing I told him, “Squats aren’t bad. BAD squats are bad.” That seemed to drive it home to him and I still stand by it.

I agree, if an athlete knows how to squat there should not be eextra stress on the knee.

It is all form, getting your hips back and keeping the back in a natrual arch. I tell clients to picture putting you but into a 5 gallon button (desending).

OP, I saw your question posed to the Rippetoe. Hopefully he can make this defintive.

The discussion whether squats are bad for your knees or not is very old and very annoying. There is plenty of evidence for the fact that squatting the right way doesn’t affect your knees. From my experience, the leg press puts a lot more stress on my knees than the squat. Personally, I don’t give a fuck, because I will continue squatting anyway :slight_smile:

I think you have to take it with a grain of salt seeing how it was written in 1962 (and the studies it cites were fom 1961), this was before CT scans and MRIs so there was no viable way to view ligaments and tendons on a living person other than x-rays which usually don’t show them in great detail.

Also keep in mind this is the same time period that medical researchers were saying lifting weights makes you muscle bound and slower, and that anabolic steriods only had a placebo effect.

[quote]Enjoy The Pain wrote:
The discussion whether squats are bad for your knees or not is very old and very annoying. There is plenty of evidence for the fact that squatting the right way doesn’t affect your knees. From my experience, the leg press puts a lot more stress on my knees than the squat. Personally, I don’t give a fuck, because I will continue squatting anyway :)[/quote]

I agree, I plan on ordering some sleeves becuase my knees feel wierd after leg pressing.

[quote]kk1977 wrote:
I think you have to take it with a grain of salt seeing how it was written in 1962 (and the studies it cites were fom 1961), this was before CT scans and MRIs so there was no viable way to view ligaments and tendons on a living person other than x-rays which usually don’t show them in great detail.
[/quote]

Exactly. The author never specifies how knee instability is defined either. Half his data comes from measuring cadavers, the other half from a physical examination without modern technology.

A lot of subsequent research has focused on the importance of the musculature surrounding the knee joint as also being critical for knee stability, and as we know, deeper squats develop those muscles.

You can’t examine knee health without looking at the entire system, which the author doesn’t do in this paper. I personally wouldn’t follow these findings like gospel.

The study is from 1962.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m also from 1962.

I get some knee pain from squatting now. I’ll be 45 on 8-27. things get worn out after awhile, even if your form is great. But there is a definite difference between bad form and muscular issues and just getting older.

I squat below parallel and have not had problems so far, but apparently, that is not the issue here.

I can’t cite any sources, but I remember reading somewhere that this study was flawed because the doctor who performed this study was biased against squats. From what I’ve read, this study was not a blind experiment, meaning that Klein knew whether or not the subject had squatted or not.

So, acting upon his bias, he moved the knees of those who squatted with more force, resulting in, of course, more medial and lateral movement. I wish had the source that talked about this, but I do not. If someone finds a reliable source that doubts the credibility of this study, I’d really like to see it again.

Bill Starr mentioned this in his book about how Klein tested it on olympic weighlifters who already had performend numerous cleans and snatches(bouncing movements, where the ligaments are prone to stretching) as well as military men using jumping squats.

Not great tests based on the subjects performing them, and a chosen exercise that has more impact than a regular squat.

As Starr mentioned, any bouncing of a movement including a bicep curl will lead to instability of a joint. A controlled squat taken deep is no threat if they are capable of it and are using appropriate loading.

Everyone knows that the only way you build leg strength is with the leg press, knee extensions, and hamstring curls.

[quote]KBCThird wrote:
“Squats aren’t bad. BAD squats are bad.”
[/quote]

Well said!