To Squat or Not To Squat?
Thoughts by Jeannette Quach, CAT(C) RMT
Knee pain and knee injuries are very common among all ages and does not play favouritism to your gender. Whether you’re a young athlete, a weekend warrior or an average individual who enjoys walking, knee pain can strike you at any moment. When I try to introduce squats or lunges as a rehabilitative exercise I am usually met with resistance due to fear of pain.
Irregardless of what the individual’s background is (in terms of athletic abilities), I will always ask patients to show me their squat. A good majority of people you meet will rarely do a squat properly.
What defines a “proper” squat? You will have your typical key components that most personal trainers and therapists will point out:
-keep your feet hip width apart
-don’t let your knees go past your toes
-keep your toes pointing forward
-engage your gluteus muscles so that your knee tracks properly and doesn’t shift your knees inwards or outwards
-keep your back upright
But the biggest differentiation you will see in people who have good squatting mechanics and those who don’t is whether their hip is hinging. Ultimately, this is the most important part of the squat because it forces the individual to fire their glutes and that is what the squat exercise is meant to work on!
Have you ever thought about that? Hold a squat for about 10-30 seconds. Where do you feel the “burn”? Most answer their quadriceps and while they are not incorrect – you certainly do feel the burn in your quadriceps – most never mention or feel their glutes firing because they are not working it! Once attention is brought to this backside area, people now lose their balance or they can’t get as low and it can be frustrating but for the sake of your knees – it will be worth it! Once you’ve mastered the hip hinge it will be hard to break out of this good habit and off you go with your fiery glutes.