“Stop squatting before it happens to you”

The Dangers of quarter squatting

Squatting is not bad for you knees. Doing an exercise that you think is a squat and doing it horribly wrong is.

But picture the scene… You are in a gym casually hitting your 5×3’s at 80% on squats getting into the groove. All of a sudden you get accosted by a man who is dying to tell you that he used to squat that much, but now he cant even take two stairs at the same time because his knees are ruined. Looking you directly in the eye he says:

“Stop squatting before it happens to you”

If you are lucky enough to have not experienced this. I’m jealous. The issue stems from squats being so commercialized yet a lot of people rarely get them correct on the first day of walking into the gym.

“Stop squatting before it happens to you”

Just looking at the diagram above shows that squatting deep is not bad for your knees, if you load the joints correctly. In fact a deeper squat activates more posterior chain, which usually in turn goes hand in hand with better posture, a stronger back and a better booty. All of which none of us are turning down.

The Easy Mistakes

The majority of the ill informed get pain through the knee joint when quarter squatting. Not because it’s a quarter squat but because of an excessive amount of loading through the knee joint by shifting the knee forwards a lot and not loading the hip at all. It’s a terrible movement and it needs to die.

Loading the hip joint.

This is where you will see the pain disappear from your knees and the activation magically pop in your glutes and hamstrings. It is 100% a myth that your knee is not allowed to travel over your toes. However if you do not share the load between the knee and hip joint then you are asking for trouble. How to do that you ask? Have a look at the two pictures below.

bad knees from squats

Picture on the left is no hip hinge at all. Picture on the right is loading both the knee and hip joint to some effect. The left is shallow because my ankle flexion is limiting my range, its putting lots of load through my quads as well as the joint at the knee. The right is much safer, deeper, more hip dominant and more or less a sexier movement. Just think of how large your hip joint is and how small your knee joint is in comparison. Which would you rather be doing the work?

Fix your squat – The banded or box squat

If you’ve read this and just had a grand epiphany that you are actually the person that you’ve never wanted to be. There is still time.

The banded squat – Try tying a resistance band around something that is going to support your weight. Get in the band and place it around your waistband, from this point you can practise hip hinging fractionally into the band and sitting in a position that isn’t going to wreck your knees. This will give you the right proprioception and “feeling” on how to squat correctly. From there you can move onto the box squat

A Box squat – Set a box up that is just below parallel so your hip just drops below your knee joint as you get to full range. Try not to sit down on the box too much but more perch keeping the weight in your legs and sitting back onto it rather than forwards.

squat bad knees

The more you practice the new movement the better it’s going to get. I will leave you with an old saying my grandmother used to say:

“Don’t try and run before you can walk and certainly don’t try and smith machine squat 200kg before you can BW squat to full range without pain.”

She was a wise woman…

Remember to book in for a Coached Trial session by heading to our front page and filling in the box…here’s the link

Also you can get more tips on our Facebook and Instagram pages.