Squats and Knee Pain

Squats are one of the most beneficial exercises for fat loss, muscle gain, general preparedness and even athletic conditioning. Unfortunately, many shy away from squats, believing it may cause knee pain/injuries or because they experience knee pain while squatting.

Squats do not cause knee pain — unless done wrong, or in rare cases, a previous knee injury or malformation of the knee joint may cause pain while squatting. Here’s the first of a two-part series on the rules of proper form and technique for pain-free squatting.

Warm up

Never skip a warm up. A good warm up includes mobility drills and dynamic stretches, and maybe a few light weight leg extensions and free squats. These should prepare the muscles to work under load and ensure the joints are plush with synovial fluid to allow smooth and pain-free, friction-less movement.

Balancing the bar

When squatting with weights, place your hands on the barbell just wider than your shoulder width. Adjust the barbell on the ridge of your shoulder blade, and not on the neck. Place the barbell such that the hands are not lifting the bar but supporting it against the back.

The stance

The position of the feet play an important role in guiding your knees through the movement. Whether you are squatting with or without weights, the feet have to be placed wider than your hips and your toes have to point outward. As a reference point, consider that if an observer stands behind you, he should be able to see your toes from behind your heel. Keep a natural stance — don’t point your toes out in excess. Remember that your knees will have to track in the direction of your toes when you squat to avoid pain and to squat more powerfully.

A good way to discover your natural stance is to jump from a short stool or stepper and land on your feet. Humans tend to automatically land into their natural stance.



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