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Old 11-29-2005, 11:28 AM   #11
Ian Holmes
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To squatting myths. A good take on them.

Here is the full article...

And here is the bits I like...
Myth #1: The Knee Shall Never Cross The Line Of The Toe

Every new trainer loves to spout this one off as a display of his or her biomechanical knowledge. They constantly scour the gym-goers movements on a noble quest to ensure patellar safety across the land. Unfortunately this unsubstantiated notion is perpetuated and accepted as fact in gyms everywhere. These are the same trainers that allow a gross deviation of the patella to the medial or lateral aspect during an exercise (the knee pointing a different direction than the foot), which actually is dangerous and degenerative.

If one were to assess knee injuries in athletic (read as: sport) environments, it becomes apparent that a high percentage of patellar trauma cases are sustained while the knee is beyond the all-sacred toe-line. In a misguided attempt to avoid knee injuries, the exercise community has therefore made this knee position taboo. In reality, the opposite reaction would have been preferential. Since this knee position is unavoidable in sports, or even in everyday life (try walking up or down stairs or a hill without your knee crossing your toe line) the proper way to prevent injuries is to strengthen the musculature around the joint by allowing the knee to travel into the “unsafe” zone in a controlled environment.

All joints contain feedback mechanisms inside the connective tissue and joint capsules called proprioceptors. These communicate with your nervous system to tell your brain what position your joint is at. This is how you can close your eyes and be aware of exactly what angle all of your joints are at without actually seeing them. To simplify a complicated issue, the more time you spend with your knee past your toe-line, the more you teach your nervous system to activate the protective soft tissue around the joint therefore PREVENTING injury during athletic situations (Supertraining, Siff & Verkoshansky, 1993). Close your eyes and think of a highly succesful strength coach. Yep, he agrees. Somehow, this news just doesn’t buy column space in Muscle and Fatness.

So remember this - the “golden rule” that the knee should never cross the line of the toe during any type of lunging exercise should be buried in the ocean with the lost city of Atlantis. (Of course, if this position causes consistent pain, then you should avoid this particular variation of the exercise).

Myth #2: Full Squats (below parallel) Are Bad For The Knees

More squat myths?!?

We’ve all heard it, if you dip below parallel during a squat, your kneecap will blow off and land in the front desk girl’s mocha latte. Well it just ain’t true! What’s that, you need a little more evidence? Ok boys and girls, its time for today’s episode of Fun With Musculoskeletal Anatomy.

The knee has four main protective ligaments that keep the femur from displacing on the tibia (ACL, PCL, MCL, LCL). These four ligaments are most effective at their protection during full extension and full flexion. Full extension would be when you are standing; full flexion would be when there is no daylight between your hamstring and your calf. When the knee is at 90 degrees of flexion (the halfway point), these four ligaments are almost completely lax and cannot exert much if any of a protective force at the knee (Zatsiorsky V. Kinematics of human motion. 1998 - published by Human Kinetics - p.301).

Unfortunately, the position where the protective ligaments of the knee are not doing any protecting is the common recommended stopping point of a squat. Therefore, as it as it turns out, this is the exact worst place you could reverse the motion under load.

If flexibility allows (heels staying planted, torso not flexing forward past 45 degrees), then a full squat where you lower yourself all the way to the ground is far safer on the knees than the traditional half squat. Guess what joint angle most leg extension machines start at? If you said 90 degrees, give yourself a pat on your healthy knee. This makes a full squat even safer than a leg extension machine (Wilk K et al. A comparison of tibiofemoral joint forces and electromyographic activity during open and closed kinetic chain exercises. Am J Sports Med; 24(4):518-527).

So am I telling you never to do parallel squats? No! Am I saying that you’ll injure yourself on a parallel squat? No, again! What I’m trying to do is simply make an argument for the safety of full squats, thereby relegating squat myth #2 to the fiery pits of hades.
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Old 11-29-2005, 08:38 PM   #12
Sean Harrison
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I live in Taiwan and see many people doing the Asian Squat of course, but one little problem... I see many older people here ( perhaps 60-75 years) that have incredibly bad posture and difficulty walking.
Now of course my day to day observations are not a true epidemiological study...but I found it odd. I think too many people have misconceptions about the longevity and vitality of Asian culture. Too many people confuse all of Asia with Okinawa and people forget that the reason why there are so many people over 100 in China is because there're so many people there.
What I'm saying is that I believe squatting is Ok, but I wonder how good it is to maintain a squat position for a few hours everyday?
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Old 11-29-2005, 10:30 PM   #13
Josh Brehm
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Thanks for all the help everyone. I think I'm just gonna try a few experiments to see how my knee reacts to what (i.e., doing absolutely nothing for 2 weeks, overworking it for a matter of days then letting it rest for a couple, etc..).

Another questions though, my doctor said that when it comes to weight lifting, "if it hurts, don't do it". How true is this statement?

Dan, no, that's not me, though wouldn't mind in the least if it were...
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Old 11-29-2005, 10:34 PM   #14
Josh Brehm
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...I meant to put this in with the previous post... I figured I'd get the responses I got about going below parallel, it just feels so much more natural than stopping at parallel. Generally, is it better to have the toes facing forward or more outwards?
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Old 11-30-2005, 04:34 AM   #15
Fiona Muxlow
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Often depends on genetics/hip structure/Flexabiliy and type of squat. Just remember Knees and toes pointing in the same direction ALWAYS.

Slightly off topic but
I train a group of hospital staff once a week in a circuit class (mostly body weight exercises with some stairwork),and have been doing so for the last 3 months most of the ladies(nurses) are between 35-55. For many this is the only exercise they do other than walking.

Almost all of them told me at the start they had "bad knees" and couldn't squat.

I asked them all to try (started some on the swissball on the wall to get confidence up) and gave they just three key pionts to remember.
*Always point knees and toes in the same direction
*Keep feet flat on ground.
*Only go down as far as they felt they could and still come back up.

Last week ALL of them did a 4min tabata squat session. Today was power cleans with a medicine ball . About 50% can now go to just below parallel 25% even further and that last 25% are still working on getting there.

All those "Bad Knees" don't hurt as much now
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Old 11-30-2005, 05:45 AM   #16
Brian Hand
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Josh, "if it hurts, don't do it" is an extremely important guideline, assuming the person has a little training time under their belt and can distinguish injury pain from effort pain. Bullheading through injury pain is seldom the way to get rid of it. (Of course bullheading through effort pain is exactly the way to get better!)

But "if it hurts don't do it" isn't a reason to abandon a movement forever. It just means that you don't have aren't sufficiently prepared to use the exercise for conditioning. Squatting is in my opinion one of the absolute fundamentals. If squatting hurts, (again in my opinion) you must make pain free squatting a goal, with bodyweight at first, then work up from there.

Once in a while it's going to be necessary to work through some pain in the rehab process, but an intelligently designed rehab plan will try to develop strength and address problems while keeping pain to a minimum. No matter how tough you are, pain screws up the neurological part of your rehab and that can actually cause further problems down the line.
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Old 11-30-2005, 07:04 AM   #17
Sean Harrison
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Don't confuse 'hurt' with 'uncomforatble' or ' tiring'.
That's why the phrase No Pain, No Gain is a good one, because we should understand that by pain we don't mean real pain, we mean difficulty.
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Old 11-30-2005, 07:53 AM   #18
John Walsh
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This is the problem with going to a general practitioner instead of a sports doc. Please tell me this was not a sports doc. The GP sees hundreds of numb nuts coming in with various weightlifting injuries. It’s his job to keep you well. You tell him you got hurt doing squats. He tells you to stop squatting. This is what they do. They are GPs and many have little knowledge about sport related injuries. They don’t have time to assess your squat assuming they knew proper form. He may see a trend with deep squatters and knee problems so he jumps to the conclusion that squats are bad for the knees. They are…when done with bad form. Ask for a referral to a sports doc and a PT.

I have rarely seen a proper barbell squat in a commercial gym. Most people cannot go into a full squat because their hips and hams are too tight. It’s impossible to say what your problem is without seeing your form. Get some instruction, books and DVDs.

Your doc is probably right that you hurt your knee squatting. The caveat is that you either over did it, used poor form or both. Even so some people still cannot tolerate squats due to poor leverages or past injuries. Rework your form with no weight on your back after you heal.

Your doc is not necessarily correct in stating “squats below parallel are bad for your knees and are of no use because you don't work your muscle when you go below parallel”. Next time you do an unweighted squat, I said unweighted, pause deep in the hole. Try to relax, really relax, every muscle in your body. You can’t because your whole body is engaged. So much for his theory about not working your muscles when below parallel.

Ironically if you go to a GP and say you got hurt jogging they would never tell you that jogging is bad for your knees. Well they might but not as quickly as they would with deep squats. I get a lot of bad advice from healthcare professionals when it comes to sports related stuff. They often mean well but they’re simply ignorant. I found a great LMT who is also a PT. She hooked me up with the bodywork then blew it by telling me to start training on Swiss Ball with 3-pound dumbbells. I take what’s useful and politely shelf the rest.
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Old 11-30-2005, 12:37 PM   #19
Ross Hunt
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you don't work your muscle when you go below parallel


Classic. We should make a t-shirt of that as a caption of Leonid Taranenko or Idalberto Aranda in the bottom of a heavy back squat.
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Old 11-30-2005, 12:51 PM   #20
Andy Shirley
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"Ironically if you go to a GP and say you got hurt jogging they would never tell you that jogging is bad for your knees. Well they might but not as quickly as they would with deep squats."

One of the Sports Med docs/orthopedic surgeons I trained with told many of his patients the following: Your knees only have so many miles on them if you run a lot. This was mostly to patients with osteoarthritis and loss of articular cartilage. The doc himself ran 50 miles a week and has completed multiple marathons. His speacialty is the knee, and I believe him on this one. The number of miles on your knees is different for everyone, which is why I generally avoid long distance running(or maybe I'm justifying my dislike for it).
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