According to a myth, it is dangerous to cross the knees over the toes while squatting. But that is not true, experts say.
In contrast, a deep squat can improve mobility and reduce the risk of injury – improve fitness, coaches say.
To achieve a greater range of motion when squatting, start with a light weight and elevated heels.
If you only squat at 90-degree angles when squatting, you will miss out on some benefits – and a decades-old fitness myth may be to blame. Deep squats, where the knees go over the toes, are not only safe but also improve posture, mobility and joint health, according to personal trainer Ben Patrick. “If you do not pull your knees over your toes, you can get knee problems,” he said.
Patrick, known on the Internet as “Knees Over Toes Guy”, suffered from many years of disabling injuries and knee pain that even several surgeries could not cure. He says the mobility training solved his pain problems and improved his performance enough to give him a college basketball scholarship. “Knees over toes literally saved my knees,” Patrick says.
Now he has made a career of fighting misinformation about posture. The myth goes back to 1978, when a study from Duke University showed that a deeper squat puts more pressure on your knees. What was originally interpreted as a potential risk of injury, however, has been shown to be the opposite in recent studies: deep squats are safe and can even protect the joints.
Good mobility and healthy joints can help you build muscle and avoid injury
Squatting below 90 degrees can help your body develop mobility, strength and stability through a larger range of motion. One of the key benefits of mobility is the body’s better ability to handle everyday situations such as carrying groceries, walking up stairs or playing with children, according to Ben Foster, head coach and founder of the People’s Athletic Club.
“The principle is, you have to expose yourself to this movement,” he told Business Insider. So you train everyday movements in the gym so that your body already knows them, for example if you need to carry something heavy with you. “If you never do, you just do not have the experience.” Better mobility has not only benefits for performance and healthy joints, but also aesthetic benefits. “If you try to shape your body naturally but are limited by injury or pain, you can’t achieve the same physique,” Patrick says.
Elevated heel squats are a good mobility exercise at the starting level
However, do not jump into deep squats right away. It is important to maintain good shape, that is, the chest up and core contraction, which requires flexibility in the knees, hips and ankles first.
If you can not squat very deep, raising your heels can give you a deeper range of motion while working on your mobility. By adapting the exercises to your needs and level of experience, you can move forward at your own pace and correct imbalances, says Patrick. It can be helpful to train with lighter weights first, or just with your own body weight.
Get more out of your workout by including mobility as part of your workout
One of the reasons many people struggle with flexibility is that it is underestimated compared to the stereotypical muscle building exercises. Most gyms can tell you how much to lift, but few are aware of agility exercises that create imbalances and risk of injury, Patrick says.
But you do not have to choose between muscle building and mobility. Exercises like deep split squats do both without taking much time, he says. “A lot of people train their bodies without looking at the risks,” he says. “With the right methods, it takes very little time.”
This text was translated from English by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.