SQUATS: To Do, Or Not To Do… This Is Your Answer!
When trying to decide what exercises to do in your workout routine, one that some may ‘hum and ha’ about are squats. If it is because of the fact that squats are a complex movement pattern that require motion at multiple joints, symmetry and strength in key areas, then that is a good reason to be apprehensive about it. If however, you are unsure because you have heard or believe that squats are bad for you (whether that is bad for your knees or for your back) or that you think it will stunt your growth, then that isn’t a good reason!
Squatting is one of the most fundamental and basic movement patterns we learn as a child as we learn to interact with the world. Before we learn to stand and walk, our body along with our brain and nervous system learns to squat. This places great importance on the value of being able to squat and squat effectively for overall movement capability and injury prevention.
I’m not sure where the idea of squatting being bad for your knees developed (possibly from a doctor out of University of Texas in 1961 when a false presumption was made when examining the level of laxity in the knees of weightlifters compared to non weightlifters, don’t worry – the study was later proven of low quality) but it is a very invalid statement.
Inherently, as a movement pattern it is vital and required in our development as bipedal creatures, so by default, it can’t be bad. What is more accurate to say however, is that as an individual you may have developed weaknesses, loss of functioning capacity at certain joints and muscles that have rendered your body unable to properly execute a squat; this is definitely a problem. The result of this is a squat performed with poor form, poor distribution of weight and increased forces through some areas and not others, thus leading to possible injury. So in summary: it’s not that squats are bad for you, the design of your body is bad for you. More accurately, your body at its’ given state of function and level of squat execution is not up to par.
When properly executed, squatting will improve your body’s ability to interact with gravitational forces, various movement requirements and will actually reduce injury rates in your knees, back and hips in the long term. Because of this, it should be incorporated into everyone’s exercise routine. But first – you have to learn to squat properly! Once you’ve learned the proper execution, don’t worry about the depth of your squat. There is no research to suggest that you have to achieve a 90 degree angle. You need to achieve the depth that your strength and range of motion allows for. Visit my website to view how to properly squat… and then, start squatting! (Only once you have been properly assessed, learned about what needs strengthening or attention in your body and resolved it so that you aren’t squatting with poor movement patterns).