Myth about squats: Improper performance can increase the risk of injury


According to a myth, it is dangerous to cross the knees over the toes while squatting. But that is not true, experts say.

On the contrary: A deep squat can improve your mobility and reduce the risk of injury – and thus improve your fitness, coaches say.

To achieve a greater range of motion when squatting, start with a light weight and elevated heels.

If you only squat to a 90-degree angle on a squat, 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, says personal trainer Ben Patrick. “If you don’t pull your knees over your toes, you can get knee problems,” he says.

Patrick, known online as “Knees Over Toes Guy”, tells us that he has suffered from many years of disabling injuries and knee pain that even several surgeries have not been able to cure. He says the mobility training solved his pain problems and improved his performance so much that he even received a college basketball scholarship. “Knees over toes literally saved my knees,” Patrick says.

Now he has made it his mission to inform others about misinformation about posture. The myth Patrick fights goes back to 1978, when a study from Duke University showed that a deeper squat puts more pressure on the 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 your joints.

Flexibility and healthy joints can help you build muscle and prevent injury

Squatting at a 90-degree angle can help your body develop mobility, strength and stability through a wider range of motion. One of the main benefits of being agile, according to Ben Foster, is the body’s better resilience in everyday situations, such as carrying groceries, going up stairs or playing with children. Foster is the head coach and founder of the People’s Athletic Club.

“The principle is that you have to expose yourself to this movement,” he told Business Insider. So you train almost everyday movements in the gym so that the body already knows them for later stressful situations. “If you never stress those parts of your body, you just lack 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 injuries or pain, you can’t achieve the same physique,” Patrick says.

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Elevated heel squats are a good mobility exercise at the starting level

However, do not jump into deep squats right away. According to Foster, it is important to maintain good shape, that is, to keep your chest up and your core tight, which first requires flexibility in your knees, hips and ankles.

If you can not squat very deep, raising your heels can give you a deeper range of motion while working on your mobility. By tailoring the exercises to your needs and level of experience, you can develop at your own pace and resolve imbalances, says fitness influencer 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 could tell you how much weight to lift, but few are aware of flexibility exercises that lead to imbalance and risk of injury, Patrick says.

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But you do not have to choose between muscle building and flexibility. Exercises like deep split squats combined the two without spending a lot of time, he says. “A lot of people train their bodies without looking at the risks,” Patrick 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.

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