4 tips to Squat correctly

Squats are one of the best exercises for people with knee pain or arthritis.  They maintain the strength in major leg muscle groups such as glutes (buttocks) and quads (front of the thigh). They are a great weight-bearing exercise for optimizing bone health, Many clients avoid squats due to knee arthritis, but interestingly, people with knee arthritis are often the ones who need squats the most.

Strength around the knee joint is the best way to reduce pain and protect the joint surfaces. Your muscles are like the ‘springs’ in your car suspension – they are the ‘shock absorbers’ around your joint. If they are not working optimally, your knee joint will not be happy. In order to get the muscles working optimally, you have to squat correctly.

Here are our tips:

  1. Keep your knees pointing the same direction as your middle toes!

If your feet are pointing straight ahead, your knee-caps should face straight ahead. If your feet are ‘open’ slightly in a V-shape, your knee-caps should point that way too. Avoid ‘knock knees’ at all costs when squatting! Even letting the knees slightly dip together will put undue stress on the inner part of your knees and will turn off your glute muscles, defeating the purpose of the squat.

  1. Keep your knees behind your toes!

Your knees doing over your toes increases the pressure in your ankle and behind your knee-cap, which can be very uncomfortable for people with issues in either of these areas. Keeping your knees behind your toes will decrease this undue pressure.

  1. Lead with your tailbone (stick your bottom out!)

Sticking your bottom out will help you keep your knees behind your toes, but it will also help you turn your glutes on more effectively. Ever wondered why you don’t feel squats working your buttocks? Might be that you’re not sticking that tailbone out enough!

  1. Keep your lumbar curve (that natural hollow in your lower back) but don’t over-arch it!

Lean forward when you stick your bottom out, keep your ribs ‘in’ and your lower belly muscle engaged (about 20%) so you don’t end up over-arching your back (see the picture below for a perfect squat).
Following these 4 steps will have you on your way to more effective and less painful squatting and lifting in no time!

By Andrea Miller, Team Leader, and Senior Physiotherapist

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