The squat is a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups in the lower body and core. It is one of the most effective exercises for building strength, power and muscle mass.
There is a common misconception that squatting deep can be dangerous for your knees. However, research has shown that deep squatting is safe for most people and can actually have a number of benefits, including:
- Increased muscle activation: Deep squats activate more muscle fibers in the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps than partial squats.
- Improved joint health: Deep squats help to strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the knees and hips, which can help to reduce the risk of future injury.
- Increased athletic performance: Deep squats can help to improve your performance in a variety of sports, such as weightlifting, powerlifting and running.
Of course, it is important to squat with proper form to avoid injury. Here are a few tips:
- Keep your back straight or in neutral alignment and your core engaged throughout the entire movement.
- Push your knees out slightly and keep your shins as vertical as possible.
- Squat down as low as you can comfortably go, without rounding your back or lifting your heels off the ground.
- Drive through your midfoot to stand back up.
If you are new to squatting or have a history of knee pain, it is a good idea to start with partial squats and gradually increase the depth as you get stronger and more comfortable. An example of this is to do a box squat and gradually reduce the depth of the box. You may also want to consider working with a qualified physiotherapist to learn proper squat form.
When is it not OK to squat deep?
There are a few cases where squatting deep may not be appropriate, such as if you have:
- A recent knee injury
- Severe arthritis in the knees or hips where deep squatting aggravates the pain and makes your arthritis worse
- A spinal condition where pain is aggravated by rounding of the spine
If you are unsure whether it is safe for you to squat deep, talk to your physiotherapist.
Deep squatting is a safe and effective exercise for most people. It can help to improve muscle strength, joint health and athletic performance. However, it is important to squat with proper form to avoid injury. If you are new to squatting or have a history of knee pain, start with partial squats and gradually increase the depth as you get stronger and more comfortable.