Squats: an essential part of every workout!

Raj Suppiah, MScPT

Squats are a great exercise for anybody looking to improve performance and prevent injury. When done properly, squats can actually help with pain and weakness in the lower extremity. However, if done wrong, squats could cause injury or pain. The traditional way of doing squats over-loads our knees, thereby irritating the patella (knee cap).  Squats should be done utilizing the hips. Keeping the knees directly under the chest and hinging at the hip unloads the knee joint and forces those gluteal butt muscles to work. The gluteals are strong stabilizers of the lower back and legs. When active, forces are less through the knees.  Essentially, you want to squat as if you are about to sit down on a low chair. The model below shows the ideal way of doing a squat: squats Some points to remember: – Always keep your back in a straight neutral position. Do this by bending at your hip/butt and not through your lower back – Keep your knees directly over your ankles.  Do not let your knees go over the feet as you squat.  This keeps your body weight above your back and butt forcing those muscles to work. – Keep your knees at the same width throughout the squat. Do not let them deviate inwards. If deviated, this angulation can cause excessive force through the inside part of your knee joint. – Do not let your heels rise.  Keeping your feet flat assures stability and that your body does not translate forward. – Keep shoulders and chest back, avoiding slouching through the upper body. – When rising from the squat, maintain the same form. Thrust your pelvis forward as you come up, using your hips to rise. Do not let your shoulders and chest come forward.  Use your gluteals to rise, instead of over-loading the quadriceps muscles, which pull on the kneecap. Squats should be incorporated into every training program, from runners to office workers. Squats can be varied by progressing to one leg, standing on uneven surfaces, adding twists and adding weights.  Always speak with a physiotherapist prior to implementing squats into your program, especially if you are experiencing any symptoms.        
Re-Build Yourself.
 
Raj is co-owner and physiotherapist at Foundation Physiotherapy. He has an interest in fitness and regularly incorporates squats and other strength exercises into his clients’ programs.