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Squat Myths Busted!

There are so many Do’s and Don’ts out there when it comes to squatting. Individuals are told they shouldn’t squat heavy or at all even because it is going to “make them worse”. But the squat is truly a life lift and the most important truth out there is that we should ALL BE SQUATTING. Check out these 5 squat myths that we busted for you:

1. Everyone’s squat stance should be the same

Most people have heard the generalized instruction “feet shoulder/hip width apart and toes point slightly out” when setting up for a squat. However, in reality, everyone’s squat stance will look slightly different depending on their anatomy. For example, someone with more external rotation at the hip may set up with their toes more pointed out while someone with more internal rotation at the hip may have their toes more pointed forward. Someone with long femurs for their height will likely set up with a wider stance than someone with shorter femurs. In general, you should try a variety of squat stances to see which one feels the best and gives you the most depth.

2. Knees should stay behind your toes

Not letting your knees pass in front of your toes was once preached to decrease the amount of stress on the knee joint. Allowing your knees to pass in front of your toes during a full depth squat does, in fact, increase knee compression by 22%. However, squatting with your knees behind your toes increases the amount of torque on hips and low back by 1070%!! Not a very fair trade off. Not to mention this makes squatting to full depth almost impossible and, we as humans, need to be able to squat to full depth 🙂

3. Avoid knee cave at all costs

“Don’t let your knees cave in”. “Drive your knees out wide”. Knee cave, or allowing your knees to fall inside of your toes, gets blamed a lot of the time for knee pain with squatting. However, there is one instance in which we do not want to correct a knee cave during a squat. That is the ADDUCTOR WHIP. When standing up out of the bottom of a heavy, full depth squat, an athletes knees may cave in then get correct back out on the way up. This is because the adductor group is working hard to stand up out of the squat and that is ok!

4. Half squats are better for knees

Time after time individuals with knee pain are told they shouldn’t squat to full depth because it is bad for their knees. In reality, as we squat further and further into depth, there is a wrapping effect that happens where multiple tissues share the load at the knee making it less stressful on your patellofemoral joint (knee cap). When individuals perform half squats, the turn around point is often around 90 degrees of knee flexion where compressive forces at the knee cap are the highest.

5. Glutes are the main muscle group used to get out of the bottom of a squat

A heavy squat is most commonly thought to coincide with strong quads and glutes. However, it is the adductor group (groin muscles/inner thigh) that is responsible for more than 50% of hip extension out of the bottom of a squat, followed by hamstrings, and then glute max as a distant 3rd contributor.

There are more myths and actual factual Do’s and Don’ts out there. But the truth is, a squat you can comfortably perform and load up is likely a good and functional squat. Happy Squatting 🙂
Our Mission:

Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.