Is squatting actually bad for your knees?

Home » Is squatting actually bad for your knees?


It’s a question that people have asked for centuries, or well a little while that is…

I was recently reading an article which referenced to “Squatting bad for your knees (Squat University)” and I instantly thought this would be a great opportunity to add to my weekly email through a reliable and referenced site I read up on regularly.  So I have picked a few bits of information from the write up to spark some interest from you to head over to their site to read the full write up.

The Lowdown:

shutterstock_471118679.jpgLet’s take a trip back to the 1950’s. We can trace the safety concerns with the deep squat back to a man by the name of Dr. Karl Klein.  The goal at the time was to understand the reason behind the rise in number of college football players sustaining serious knee injuries.  He suspected these injuries were in part due to the use of full range of motion deep squats during team weight training.  Klein used a crude self-made instrument to analyze the knees of several weightlifters who frequently performed deep squats.

shutterstock_660966850.jpgIn 1961 he released his findings, stating that deep squatting stretched out the ligaments of the knee.  He claimed this was evidence that athletes who performed the deep squat were potentially compromising the stability of their knees and setting themselves up for injury and he went on to recommend that all squats be performed only to parallel depth.

There were some individuals who disagreed with Dr. Klein. In May of 1964 Dr. John Pulskamp (a regular column in the notorious Strength and Health) wrote, “full squats are not bad for the knees and they should certainly not be omitted out of fear of knee injury”. Despite Dr. Pulskamp’s best efforts, the damage that Klein inflicted had been done. By the end of the decade strength coaches across the country stopped teaching the full depth squat.  In some cases, the squat was dropped from training programs all together.

The original studies by Dr. Klein claimed squatting deep stretched out the ligaments that hold the knee together and ultimately leaving it unstable.   However, these claims have shutterstock_716742379.jpgnever been replicated.   Researchers have even used a copy of Klein’s testing instrument in their own studies. Their findings disapproved Klein’s research. They found that athletes who used the deep squat had no difference in the laxity of their knee ligaments than those who only squatted to parallel.

“Take that people who tell other people squatting is bad for their knees…”

However, squat depth should be limited if it cannot be performed with good technique.  Poor movement only increases our risk for injury. An athlete’s body is like a finely tuned sports car.  Constantly driving pedal to the metal and taking aggressive turns will lead the car to break down faster.  The same goes for squatting. You can only lift so much weight poorly for so long before your body sustains an injury. Squatting to full depth poorly is a great way to invite injury.


Take Away
So what have we found out since 1964? Contrary to mainstream belief, we now know that squatting deep or “ass to grass” is actually not as dangerous as Dr. Klein made it out to be.  Research again and again has failed to support the theory that deep squats are bad for the knees in healthy athletes.

its a pretty cool overview of the the whole squating is bad for your knees perspective if you ask me, anyway I thought this would be of value to you guys and the fun facts would be something to tell to a few friends at dinner or a stranger on a night out.

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