Actually, it’s 100% the opposite. A properly executed squat will strengthen the stabilizer muscles around your knee joints, and protect you from injury–in addition to improving your ability to take those bleachers two at a time. Well, maybe not two at a time, but even so.
The trick to easing the demand on your knees as you squat is simple. Here are some guidelines to performing a bodyweight squat to your best advantage:
A Properly Executed Squat: Easy-Knees’y!
- Hinge at the hip before you start to squat. This basically means: stick that booty out behind you! At the same time you want to maintain a neutral back (neither arched nor rounded) A good way to ensure this is the case is to assume a posterior pelvic tilt–curl the butt under–once you are in a hip-hinge position.
- Keep your weight in your heels. This will maximize the demand on your posterior chain–think: hammies & glutes–and minimize the demand on your quads and knees. (although they are still in the game for sure!) If you have trouble keeping your weight in your heels, you might place a slim elevation under the ball of each foot–such as a plate weight under each, or even equally-sized paperback books. This will force your weight to be over your heels as you lower down.
- Take a deep breath and inhale as you drop into squat. It’s safe to go low enough that your booty is even with your bending knees. As you begin to lower yourself into squat, simultaneously lift your extended arms out in front of you to activate stabilizing muscles to help you stay balanced. Try to keep your upper body upright as you squat, too, but don’t worry if you find yourself somewhat bent over. Just not too much!
- Exhale as you return to an upright position, and remember! Squeeze those glutes as you do so! Exhaling as you rise–the hardest part of this exercise–will prevent blood-pressure spikes.
BIO: Based in Santa Barbara, CA, Karen Robiscoe is a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist and personal trainer through NASM. DBA Kardio with Karen, she is additionally certified as a Group X instructor and Spin teacher with Fitour, a licensed Livestrong Cancer Survivors instructor by YMCA, and a fully accredited Aquatics teacher with AEA.
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