Is Squatting Safe?

If you think you have never done a squat before in your life, think again! If you are a doctor who has told their patient to never squat again because it’s bad for their hips or knees, you may want to re-think that statement. Every time you sit down or get up from a chair, you are performing a squat. This is a basic human movement that cannot be avoided. Certainly if you perform a squat poorly it can cause pain in your hips or knees. However, diligently training this movement pattern will help you to avoid these issues and make your hips and knees more resilient in the long run.

In this guide we will cover what to do and what not to do when it comes to a very basic version of the squat movement pattern. If you experience hip or knee pain while squatting despite trying to make all the corrections that we discuss, you should seek out an assessment from a qualified physiotherapist. 

Sit to Stand/Chair squat:

In this version of the squat, we will use a movement you’ve done in your life many thousands of times over and do it in a more deliberate way.

  1. Start sitting on the front edge of a chair
  2. Place feet roughly shoulder distance apart, with the ball of your foot under your knee
  3. Sit your upper body up as tall as you can and reach your hands forwards
  4. Reach/lean forwards by pivoting about your hip
  5. As you lean forwards there will come a point where it feels natural to start to stand up from the chair
  6. Stand up all the way
  7. Reverse this movement by pushing your hips backwards and reaching forwards, slowly lowering yourself back down to sit in the chair.

Once you have mastered this, you can lightly touch the chair rather than sitting down.

Pretty simple, right?! Now we will discuss some additional considerations/adjustments to make.

Knee Positioning:

You want to be careful to avoid having your knees collapse inwards towards one another – something called a valgus collapse. This is best observed by looking in a mirror or taking a video of your the squat viewed directly from the front. In a good set-up, your knees will remain on top of your feet – your shin will remain perpendicular to the floor. If you notice your knees moving closer together and/or your shins angling towards one another, you need to correct it

  1. Place a resistance band loop above or below your knees (the band should not be overly heavy
  2. Set yourself up as with the squat described above, but note that the band will pull your knees inwards
  3. Press your knees outwards into the band so that your knees remain on top of your feet
  4. Maintaining the same feeling of tension in the band throughout the movement will coach your knees into the proper position 

Spine positioning:

Here, you want to ensure your spine keeps its normal/neutral curve and does not flex/hunch over. To observe this you want a side view. The point where most people start to lose their spine position occurs when leaning forwards. For this exercise we will focus on this component only

  1. Set yourself up as described above
  2. Lean your body forwards by pivoting about your hip
  3. Your spine should keep the same curve/position as you lean
  4. Think about keeping your chest up high as you lean forwards
  5. Lean back to the starting position and repeat

Programming the Chair Squat/Sit to Stand

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 10-15

Rest between sets: 30-90 seconds

Frequency: minimum 3 times per week. Can be done as often as once per day

That covers the most basic version of the squat. Please refer to subsequent articles for information on how to progress beyond this version.

– insert link to BW squat

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