Are Squats Bad for You?

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Are squats bad for you?

Oh boy. Over the years this one has lost some steam, but they are still some detractors from this. Squatting is not bad for you in any way; after all, squatting is one of the basic moves that human beings have been doing since the dawn of time. You  look at any form of athletic movement and squatting is involved in some shape or form. In fact, the natural movement of squatting is intensified by sport when we have to jump; volleyball players are prone to ACL injuries because of all the jumping that they do. Believe it or not, 75% of all ACL injuries are non-contact and thus can be a result from weak technique or poor biomechanics (1). Misinformed strength coaches make athletes, who already do a lot of jumping, start plyometric training in thinking that they will help performance, when in fact, squats and steps up will help enhance performance and prevent injury.

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I had a kinesiology professor in college who told me that he took over the training for a cross country team and the first thing he had them do was squat. A physical therapist freaked out him and said that squatting would ruin their knees. My professor politely responded that running mile after mile for the next four years of their life will wreak havoc on their joints so he’s trying to keep these kids healthy with some good old fashioned squats.

With that being said, squatting bad is bad for you, so if you’re not sure on how to squat the last thing that you want to do is load a barbell on your back.  It’s also hard to squat properly if you spend all day sitting on your behind; tight hip flexors and weak glutes will throw off your mechanics.  You need to put the Playstation controller down and start foam rolling these muscles out!

Lastly, playing around in the squat rack is a recipe for disaster. Guys who load up the bar with a bunch of weight only to barely even squat are doing more harm than good. When you squat you need to squat low; the lower your squat the more muscle activation you get from your glutes and hamstrings (2).  The best way to squat low is to only use a bare barbell on your back – perform sets of 5 to 10 reps to ingrain the movement pattern in your head.  After 20 sets (NOT done in one workout, this should be several weeks) you should be all set to rock and roll. If the barbell is too heavy for you, try using a PVC pipe.

[toggle title=”References”]

1. Clark, Michael A. Lucett, Scott C. “The Rational for Corrective Exerise.” NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training”. 2010; pp 3

2. Caterisano, A., Moss, R.F., Pellinger, T.K., Woodruff, K. et al. “The Effect of Back Squat Depth on the EMG Activity of 4 Superficial Hip and Thigh Muscles.”(2002)Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 16:3, 428-432 [/toggle]


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