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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 11-28-2005, 11:31 PM   #1
Josh Brehm
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I went to the doctor today to get my knee checked out because it's been hurting for a few weeks now (felt more like an overworked muscle/tendon, but I wanted to make sure), and has especially been hurting when doing squats and pistols and leg extensions. Anyway, I was right, doc said it's the ligament that's attached to my kneecap and the muscle above the knee, and that I've overworked it. He also said that doing 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, you just put more pressue on the knee's ligaments and tendons.

Personally, I think the reason I've hurt my knee is due to having bad squat form and overworking my knee using bad squat form, maybe even doing pistols with bad form caused it to get hurt. Anyway my question is, is the doctor right? Is going below parallel bad for your knees, or is it that I was having bad squat/pistol technique? BTW, what is proper form for squats?
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Old 11-28-2005, 11:39 PM   #2
Kenneth Urakawa
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I don't believe there's much research evidence to show that squatting below parallel is damaging to the knees (but I might be wrong). Once again I think it comes down to training a functional range of motion.

I would guess that you're probably shifting your weight forward on your foot, and placing more stress on your quads/patellar tendon. Personal opinion on form is that you want to keep your weight through the arch or rear 2/3 of your foot, keeping your glutes and hamstrings activated. Knees should track over the middle toes.

Hope things feel better soon, good luck!
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:57 AM   #3
Chris Williams
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Even if it true that squatting below parallel puts more pressure through the ligaments & tendons, my gut feel is this may not neccessarily be a bad thing, done in moderation. Surely you need to strengthen ligaments & tendons also? Any more informed comments welcome!
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Old 11-29-2005, 02:35 AM   #4
Dan MacDougald
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Buy and read back issue #4 of the CrossFit Journal, which has a cover article on the squat by Coach Glassman

Included are these statements:
"Frequently, we encounter individuals whose doctor or chiropractor has told them not to squat. In nearly every instance this is pure ignorance on the part of the practitioner. When a doctor that doesn’t like the squat is asked, “by what method should your patient get off of the toilet?” they are at a loss for words."

"In a similarly misinformed manner we have heard trainers and health care providers suggest that the knee should not be bent past 90 degrees. It’s entertaining to ask proponents of this view to sit on the ground with their legs out in front of them and then to stand without bending the legs more than 90 degrees. It can’t be done without some grotesque bit of contrived movement. ...
Our presumption is that those who counsel against the squat are either just repeating nonsense they’ve heard in the media or at the gym, or in their clinical practice they’ve encountered people who’ve injured themselves squatting incorrectly."
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Old 11-29-2005, 05:34 AM   #5
Anthony Bainbridge
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Squatting to parallel and below is perfectly acceptable and safe - assuming good form.

Good form depends on the type of squat you are doing. Olympic squats and powerlifting squats are a lot different when you get into the details. Bar placement, stance, depth, etc. all come into play.

Do some googling to find detailed info on each type.
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Old 11-29-2005, 06:18 AM   #6
Steve Shafley
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Another great reference for squatting is the book "Starting Strength" by Rippletoe and Kilgore.

I found a lot of good tips in it and I consider myself a decent squatter.

It's at www.****************.com, I think.
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Old 11-29-2005, 06:54 AM   #7
Brian Hand
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Josh, I would certainly not second guess a doctor's diagnosis, especially over the internet, but I will pass on that I had pain in the same area misdiagnosed as strain of those ligaments / tendons. The ligament that usually gets strained in the knee is the patella "tendon" which runs from the kneecap to the shin. This is a very common injury. The tendons that attache the quad to the kneecap are less injury prone.

Pain in that area is usually caused by what is variously known as patellofemoral syndrome, aka anterior knee pain, aka chrondomalacia. It is caused when the kneecap tracks wrong over the end of the thigh bone, causing the underside of the kneecap to rub on the end of the thigh bone. The cartilage on the end of the thigh bone wears and the underlying bone becomes sensitive.

One of the most common causes of the improper tracking is weakness in the VMO, the teardrop shaped part of the quad. Strengthening the VMO will resolve the problem in many cases.

One of the best exercises for strengthening the VMO? You guessed it, full squats. Full front squats are even better. (Of course you have to rest and do some therapy to get to the point you can squat pain free first, I'm not suggesting that anyone ignore an injury and try to squat through the pain, that would just make matters worse.)

Just some food for thought, might be worth getting a second opinion.
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Old 11-29-2005, 07:42 AM   #8
Dan MacDougald
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Josh,

Are you the Josh Brehm in Sports Illustrated "Faces In The Crowd" this week?
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Old 11-29-2005, 08:09 AM   #9
Lincoln Brigham
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"He also said that doing 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"

This statement is pure ignorance of the mechanics of squatting. The truth is that as the hips pass below the level of the knees there is simply a shift of the load from one set of muscles to another. $10 says that doc could not say which muscles are prime movers in the bottom half of a full squat.

2 billion Asians think your doc is full of ****. Literally, because they're all wondering how he takes a crap. They figure he either holds it in or he craps standing up. Most western docs don't know squat.
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Check out this hilarious film:
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Old 11-29-2005, 08:46 AM   #10
Kenneth Urakawa
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That's some funny stuff! I always wondered why my squats felt so comfortable--turns out to be genetic! :rofl:
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