Do your knees hurt? Does the idea of squatting down to the ground to pick something up cause your spine to shiver? Unfortunately, this is a common problem that many of the older adults I work with encounter. Through years of misuse of the body, they now are left with a body that unfortunately isn’t functioning at the highest capacity. This usually comes along with replacements of the knees, hips, etc. Although these issues are incredibly common, this does not have to be the same for you. If you take care of your body with a proper exercise program, and other lifestyle recommendations, we can avoid many of these common joint issues as we age. Squats are a great exercise for leg strength and joint integrity. Doing squats properly will do anything but hurt your knees.
Are Squats Bad for Your Knees?
Are squats bad for your knees? Well, the short answer is no. Squats should not hurt your knees if done properly. This is where older adults, and people that aren’t familiar with exercise variation get confused on things. Let’s talk about what a squat is in itself. A squat, is where you simply bend your knees and hips at the same time to lower yourself to the ground. That’s it! The way you actually achieve and perform this is where individuals mess up and might end up hurting themselves. The squat movement itself isn’t what hurts peoples knees. The fact that people aren’t doing the right variation of a squat for themselves is usually what gets people into trouble.
How Do I Squat Pain Free?
This is usually where I assess an individuals overall squat pattern by having them practice a “sit to stand.” A sit to stand is simply where you sit down in a chair, and stand back up. When I work with seniors and individuals with disabilities this movement will tell me a lot about their current level of squatting. If they are able to stand up and out of the chair with no problems or pains, we can make it a little harder. This can involve practicing squats to a lower chair, using weight to make the movement harder, practicing the movement slower, or even progressing to a free weight squat. If any of these variations are causing pain after your do many repetitions, I would recommend going back to the starting sit to stand variation. If when you try the initial sit to stand you are struggling tremendously, it would be advantageous to make the movement easier. Doing this usually reduces the amount of pain that one might typically receive in the knees. An easier variation of the sit to stand can involve boosting up the chair to a higher version, adding assistance with a walker or other place to grab on to, or even holding the squat position halfway without fulling moving. At the end of the day, you will need to try different variations and see what works for you. If you are interested in seeing more sit to stand variations, click here.
Overall, squatting is a great exercise to improve a large amount of muscle and strength in your lower body. Consistently practicing the movement will help you to live a more fulfilling and pain free life. The key is to make sure you are doing the proper squatting variation for yourself. As mentioned, try different squatting patterns and see what does and doesn’t work for you. Good luck in your exercises, and make sure to keep squatting!
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