Figuring out the proper way to not only perform a squat but then be able to cue the squat correctly can become difficult. There are a lot of false narratives out there about proper squat form including depth, stance, and performance of the squat, so we wanted to take this time to tackle a few of these. Our hope is that after reading this you feel more comfortable with both performing squats as well as having your patient or client perform squats as a part of their strengthening routine. Here are the top 4 “squat myths” that we hear often from patients and others in the healthcare community:
1. Knees Over Toes Is BAD
How many of us have heard to never let your knees go over your toes during a squat because they are bad for your knees? I could not tell you how many times I have heard this both in a therapy clinic and at the gym. This could not be farther from the truth. To quote the research – “Although restricting forward movement of the knees may minimize stress on the knees, it is likely that forces are inappropriately transferred to the hips and low-back region.” This is one reason we like to emphasize “sit straight down” vs. “sit back” because “sit back” can create a more forward trunk lean during the squat. Does this mean that all individuals are ready to perform squats with knees over their toes? No, but that does not make this inherently bad. There are often not any “bad” exercises, only exercises that may not be right for you or your patient at this time.
2. Full Depth Squats Are Unhealthy
Full depth squats are not unhealthy and are actually one of the most functional exercises that somebody could perform. I mean you only perform it to get off the toilet, off of any low chair/surface, or out of any low car. Hartmann et al analyzed whether squats with less knee bend are safer for our muscles and joints. They found that the highest forces at the knee were found at 90 degrees of knee bend and actually decreased with increasing depth due to the wrapping effect. They also found that the rumored increased degenerative changes or “wear and tear” are unfounded. Interestingly, they actually found thicker cartilage in professional weightlifters. Hartmann
3. Head Position Is Not That Important
Head position can have a trickle-down effect on our squatting patterns. Head position affects trunk position with a downward gaze resulting in increased hip bend and a forward/upward gaze resulting in a more upright trunk. To reduce the lumbar shear forces and maintain an upright trunk, athletes should maintain a forward or upward gaze. Optimizing squat technique
4. Feet Must Point Straight Ahead
Based on individual anatomy, not everybody’s foot positioning and stance width will be the same. Different characteristics such as femur length and rotation during the squat can have a huge impact on the performance of the squat. It is recommended that the squatter utilize a natural stance and foot position rather than a set in stone stance width and foot position to optimize performance due to individual anatomical differences. Optimizing squat technique
Check us out on Instagram @ironstandardpt this week to see some of our favorite squat variations, as well as some good techniques to fix any problems you have have with your squat.