Thursday, July 13, 2006

Squat Safety

Many people are concerned that squatting low - that is, with your knee at an acute angle, rather than just to the point that your thighs are parallel to the floor - can cause knee injury. I've seen a few sites (including the one I linked yesterday) that claim otherwise, but the very fact of seeing so many denials made me wonder whether anyone is making a credible case that deep bends are risky.

So I found this article, which argues pretty extensively (with multiple references) that squats are safe for most people, even people with various types of knee injuries, and in general have a protective effect on knees. My squats have been causing me a little bit of knee discomfort and "fuzziness" (both of which go away by the next day), and the article suggests I should do them shallower if that's the case, until I build up strength. (I've been nervous about the knee sensations, but not sure whether they were injuries or just soreness like you often have in your muscles after lifting weights.)

So I'll be keeping my squats shallower for now, but I hope to continue working up to higher reps and more depth over time as my knees adapt. The article also covers spinal concerns, but I won't be worrying about my spine until I actually start squatting with a barbell (or at least a bar).


D said...

In our gym classes, they say that the key is to not let your knees get in front of your ankle. This having your shin at a 90-degree angle to the floor generally turns out to be the same as having your thigh parallel to the floor, but I find it more helpful.

Debbie said...

(That was me.)

Tam said...

My shins don't seem to stay straight up and down regardless. I've been watching guys do squats at the gyms and the ones who seem to be doing them properly have some shin angle too. Krista (at, linked earlier) gets her shins a bit angled as well.

It's easy for me to obsess over details like angles of things, but for now I'm focusing on (a) minimal or no knee pain, (b) weight balanced on feet (not mainly on toes), and (c) back properly arched (not humped). Other than that, I'm pretending to assume that my body kind of knows how it can move and that anything I do (within reason) will work and either be It or a Path Leading To It.

sally said...

Good info, Tam - I'm glad to have heard more about the protective effects of squats. When my knee flaked out on me a couple months ago, I thought that my having abandoned strength training (in which squats were a key lower body exercise) in favor of extra cardio was partly to blame. Good to know that my sense that the strenghtening routine I got into after the acute phase of my injury was past is a good idea has some kind of scientific support.