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Squat Depth... Safety & Importance

BrotherIron

BrotherIron

TID Board Of Directors
Mar 6, 2011
10,252
2,532
#1
The full squat is the preferred lower body exercise as well as strength athletic strength. Yet physical therapists and inexperienced athletic trainers regularly condemn the time honored full range of motion squat as being harmful to the knees and apparently, as a result, the soul. The squat when performed correctly is not only the safest leg exercise for the knee; it produces a more stable knee than ANY other leg exercise. The important part of the last statement is “WHEN PERFORMED CORRECTLY”. Correctly is deep, with hips dropping below level with the top of the patella. Correctly is full range of motion.

Any squat that is not deep is a partial squat, and partial squats stress the knees and the quads without the stressing the glutes and hamstrings. The hamstrings and glutes perform their function in the squat when the hip is stretched to the point where they get tight, at full hip flexion – the deep squat position. The hamstring muscles, attached to the tibia and to the ischial tuberosity of the pelvis, reach a full stretch at the very bottom of the squat, where the pelvis tilts forward with the torso, stretching the 2 ends of the muscle apart. At this stretched position they provide a slight rebound out of the bottom, which will look lime a bounce, and this in fact is a useful thing to coach into the movement if done carefully and with good explanation to the trainee. The tension of the stretch pulls the tibia backwards, the posterior direction, balancing the forward-pulling force produced by the quads, which pull from the front. The hamstrings finish the work, with help from the glutes, by straightening out, “extending” the hip.

In a partial squat, which fails to provide a full stretch for the hamstrings, most of the foce against the tibia is forward, from the quad and their attachment to the front of the tibia below the knee. This produces an anterior shear, a forward-directed sliding force, on the knee, with the tibia being pulled forward from the patella tendon and without balancing pull from opposing hamstrings. This shearing force- and resulting strain on the prepatellar area – may be the biggest problem with partial squats. Many spectacular doses of tendonitis have been produced this way, with “squats” getting the blame.

Another problem with partial squats is the fact that the heavy loads may be moved, due to the short range of motion and the greater mechanical efficiency of the quarter squat position. This predisposes the trainee to back injuries as a result of the extreme spinal loading that results from putting a weight on his back that is possibly in excess of 3 times weight that can be safely handled in a correct deep squat. If it's too heavy to squat below parallel, it's to heavy to have on the back.
 
BrotherIron

BrotherIron

TID Board Of Directors
Mar 6, 2011
10,252
2,532
#2
Perhaps this article will help shed some insight into the depth question when talking about squatting.
 
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