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Are Squats Damaging to the Knee?

Tips, tricks, workouts, injury advice.
 

Postby Ed F » Tue May 11, 2010 8:46 pm

Pretty amazing watching Laird Hamilton do em on a Full Ball... he jumps onto it, balances, does a full squat then jumps off and repeats this for well over 50 intervals. Fking Amazing.


Got a link? Google didn't help me. Sounds amazing.
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Postby jthomas » Tue May 11, 2010 8:49 pm

Great input guys; thanks.

Jim Thomas
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Postby Alpinist » Tue May 11, 2010 10:33 pm

Lunging is great for strengthening the mucles around the knee. The technique below is particularly effective with the use of dumbbells.

(It seems to help the "pecs" as well.) :roll:

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Postby Ze » Tue May 11, 2010 11:09 pm

no offense, but wtf do crossfit people know? i read that thread, and it was full of fail.

first, people must stop answering with black or white absolute answers, b/c the knees are more complex and there is a lot that isn't well understood.

you have the tibialfemoral interaction on the menisci, the loading of all the ligaments, loading of the quadriceps / patella tendons, and patellafemoral stress. anyone of these things could be considered "knee pain" and all are likely stressed in different kinematic & force combinations.

i'm trying to look over this review article I found on PubMed. it's pretty long but discusses various consequences to different loadings. in what they discuss it seems most experiments don't go past 90-100 degrees of knee flexion - that doesn't mean going past is bad, however.

in terms of shear stress, yes its true hamstring activation will help reduce stress (referring to crossfit thread), but that is only one element.

as the knee flexes in a squat, there is an increasing patellafemoral force. basically, put a piece of rope over your kneecap, and pull at both ends at different angles. if you pull away horizontally, there won't a force, but as you begin to pull down at more vertical angles, the compressive force will increase. so the compressive force between the patella and femur increase (at least up to 90 degrees flexion).

if the patella is not properly aligned, this can certainly lead to high stress / pain / cartilage degeneration. however, it is not clear if even lower knee angles increase the stress, because the torque demand at the knee may lower in deep positions (relative to 90 degrees).

squats (at variable depths and resistances) are not going to be good for everyone. people have different pre-existing conditions, relative segment lengths (think femur / tibia orientations), and patella mechanics. certain things may stress their knees more. obviously a great indicator is pain. if you are feeling knee pain when doing some time of squat, then stop doing it! if it feels okay, then might be fine to continue with.
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Postby The Chief » Tue May 11, 2010 11:58 pm

Ed F wrote:
Pretty amazing watching Laird Hamilton do em on a Full Ball... he jumps onto it, balances, does a full squat then jumps off and repeats this for well over 50 intervals. Fking Amazing.


Got a link? Google didn't help me. Sounds amazing.


Sorry.

His very intense Training Program was part of a one hour docu that his Wife did on him for the Fit TV's Series, "Insider Training" that aired last year.

You are in luck as it will air again next week...

http://fittv.discovery.com/tv-schedules ... 11.29233.1

And yes, the dude is fking amazing and is an example of what all around disciplined fitness really means.

Oh yeah, I can't even imagine how many MILLIONS of DEEP KNEE BENDS he's had to do for the past 40 years of surfing.

Go here and watch his videos.... http://www.lairdhamilton.com/
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Postby Ed F » Wed May 12, 2010 2:20 pm

The Chief wrote:
Ed F wrote:
Pretty amazing watching Laird Hamilton do em on a Full Ball... he jumps onto it, balances, does a full squat then jumps off and repeats this for well over 50 intervals. Fking Amazing.


Got a link? Google didn't help me. Sounds amazing.


Sorry.

His very intense Training Program was part of a one hour docu that his Wife did on him for the Fit TV's Series, "Insider Training" that aired last year.

You are in luck as it will air again next week...

http://fittv.discovery.com/tv-schedules ... 11.29233.1

And yes, the dude is fking amazing and is an example of what all around disciplined fitness really means.

Oh yeah, I can't even imagine how many MILLIONS of DEEP KNEE BENDS he's had to do for the past 40 years of surfing.

Go here and watch his videos.... http://www.lairdhamilton.com/


Holy crap. That guy is a freak. Don't pay any attention to surfing, so I wasn't that familiar.

Ever heard of this guy, Chief? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Grimek

He's the guy that taught my Grandfather to lift back in the 1930s at the York Barbell Co. in York, PA, which produced about 40 Olympians back in the day. Mr Grimek (which is the only thing I ever called him) paid for my Grandfather to travel from our hometown to York three times a week to train.

You'll get a kick out of this story: my Grandpa earned a spot on the 1944 Olympic team, which never got to compete because of the war. By the summer of 1944, my Grandfather was floating around on a destroyer in the Pacific. When they realized how fit he was, they used him at Puget Sound to conduct all of the physical training for the guys who would have invaded Japan if we hadn't dropped the bomb. He made Chief in less than a year.

Anyway, back to Grimek. When I was in high school, my Grandfather took me to York Barbell for a sort of reunion. As he was showing me around, we noticed a guy in the corner, suspended on his fingertips on a bench and touching his knees to his nose. It was Mr Grimek...he was in his 70s or 80s. Most amazing thing I've ever seen. Mr Grimek used to squat 400 pounds for 15 reps into his 60s.
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Knee is better

Postby jthomas » Wed May 12, 2010 2:21 pm

Knee seems OK now. Went to Crossfit this morning and did some full squats going all the way down and no pain. In fact, seemed less stressful than using a ball under the butt to limit how low you go. I was very careful to have my legs at the proper angle and the trainer watched me for good form. I intend to squat this way from now on. Here is a relevant article:

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0827.htm
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Postby Ed F » Wed May 12, 2010 2:25 pm

Ze wrote:no offense, but wtf do crossfit people know? i read that thread, and it was full of fail.

first, people must stop answering with black or white absolute answers, b/c the knees are more complex and there is a lot that isn't well understood.

you have the tibialfemoral interaction on the menisci, the loading of all the ligaments, loading of the quadriceps / patella tendons, and patellafemoral stress. anyone of these things could be considered "knee pain" and all are likely stressed in different kinematic & force combinations.

i'm trying to look over this review article I found on PubMed. it's pretty long but discusses various consequences to different loadings. in what they discuss it seems most experiments don't go past 90-100 degrees of knee flexion - that doesn't mean going past is bad, however.

in terms of shear stress, yes its true hamstring activation will help reduce stress (referring to crossfit thread), but that is only one element.

as the knee flexes in a squat, there is an increasing patellafemoral force. basically, put a piece of rope over your kneecap, and pull at both ends at different angles. if you pull away horizontally, there won't a force, but as you begin to pull down at more vertical angles, the compressive force will increase. so the compressive force between the patella and femur increase (at least up to 90 degrees flexion).

if the patella is not properly aligned, this can certainly lead to high stress / pain / cartilage degeneration. however, it is not clear if even lower knee angles increase the stress, because the torque demand at the knee may lower in deep positions (relative to 90 degrees).

squats (at variable depths and resistances) are not going to be good for everyone. people have different pre-existing conditions, relative segment lengths (think femur / tibia orientations), and patella mechanics. certain things may stress their knees more. obviously a great indicator is pain. if you are feeling knee pain when doing some time of squat, then stop doing it! if it feels okay, then might be fine to continue with.


It sounds like most of those things would result in knee pain eventually from almost any physical activity. I stand by my claim that a normal person with no injuries and no biomechanical problems should be able to perform full squats with weight with no issues. I think squatting gets a bad name (along with deads) because there is so much potential to hurt yourself if your form is bad. Honestly, the few times I've done "sissy squats" (to 90 degrees), I've really felt it in my knees.
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Postby Schlekeway » Wed May 12, 2010 4:03 pm

The short answer to the op's question is no. However, there are so many factors to consider that it is more complicated then that. There are so many ways to screw up a squat, and most people do not do them correctly. This is what causes a lot of injury and pain. Also, many people simply do not have the core strength or the flexibility in the hips to do parallel squats correctly. The following issues lead to poor form and possible injury:

Letting your knees "buckle" towards eachother upon extension

Lack of flexibility in the hips forcing your head/back down in order to achieve 90 degrees, causing excess strain on the lower back and forcing the weight on to your toes

Lack of core strength, causing the core to "break" or fold forward, forcing the weight onto your toes and your hips back/up

Placing your feet to wide or to narrow, possibly placing excess strain on the knees

Using to heavy of weight

Going to Low in the squat

Not staying "flat" and straight during the squat, allowing the hips to migrate to the left or right, opening yourself up to back injuries.

If you are going to be squatting light, a lot of this stuff is not as important. Understand, however, that the heavier you go or more intense the reps, the more strict you have to be with form to prevent injury. Squatting in front of a mirror is almost a necessity unless you have been doing it correctly for years and have the muscle memory, even then bad habits creep in if you dont jump in front of a mirror from time to time.

I will say this about squatting below 90 degrees. Dont do it. The purpose behind squatting to a full 90 is to get the glutes and hamstrings fully engaged in the exercise. This purpose is not being furthered by going below 90. The force multiplication on the knees increases exponentially as you go below 90 degrees. Anyone that goes below 90 degrees with heavy squats for long periods of time is asking for trouble.

I would be very careful about following advice from crossfit people, most of them dont know their ass from a hole in the ground. People spend their entire professional lives learning how to teach and perform olympic lifts correctly, and crossfitters think they can take a 4 month online certification course and go out and teach them. It does not work that way. Also, the lynchpin in the entire crossfit olympic lifting communitty is Mark Rippitoe (spelling?). All of the college strength and conditioning coaches I have worked with find some flaws in his teaching/ideology; and he does not have a great reputation in the strength and conditioning community.
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Postby bird » Wed May 12, 2010 4:23 pm

Schlekeway wrote:I would be very careful about following advice from crossfit people, most of them dont know their ass from a hole in the ground. People spend their entire professional lives learning how to teach and perform olympic lifts correctly, and crossfitters think they can take a 4 month online certification course and go out and teach them. It does not work that way. Also, the lynchpin in the entire crossfit olympic lifting communitty is Mark Rippitoe (spelling?). All of the college strength and conditioning coaches I have worked with find some flaws in his teaching/ideology; and he does not have a great reputation in the strength and conditioning community.

I'd be very careful about following advice from summitpost people, most of them don't know their ass from a hole in the ground (The Chief excluded). Seriously, that's a broad and unfair statement full of errors, (from someone who I bet has never been to a crossfit box or followed the protocol). First, Rippetoe is not the foundation of Olympic lifts for Crossfit, I don't think I've ever seen him referred to for Snatch or Clean & Jerk, the only Olympic lifts. He is referred to frequently for power lifts such as the squat and deadlift.
Second, there is no online course for crossfit, so not sure what the heck you are talking about. And from the seminars I've taken, it's made pretty clear that teaching the C&J and Snatch is a complex skill and should be learned from skilled instructors.
Anyway, since the OP has experienced CF training, he probably knows this already.
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Postby Schlekeway » Wed May 12, 2010 4:39 pm

Sigh..... you crossfit fanatics never cease to amaze me or fail to get your hackels up when someone says something less than positive.

I said MOST people who teach crossfit are full of it, not all people.

However, Online certification or not, I do know that it only takes a few months to be certified and that many people who are instructors couldnt do the lifts correctly if it meant their life. Contrary to your statement, I have done crossfit workouts and know what its all about. I have experienced first hand a crossifit instructer teaching people how to do deadlifts, squats, and power cleans INCORRECTLY AND BLATENTLY FALSE.

Any crossfit instructor who I have ever talked to, when cornered, invariable invokes the name of Rippitoe as final justification for what they are teaching. So, to say that he is not the keystone to their conclusions, is false in my opinion.

I had people who make six figure incomes watch me do olympic lifts on a day to day basis for 6 years. I have been taught by professionals at the college and nfl level. I have done snatches, deadlifts, power cleans, hang cleans, front squats, back squats, split jerks, clean and jerks ect... for over a decade. So please dude, spare me the disrespect.

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Postby mconnell » Wed May 12, 2010 5:08 pm

Schlekeway wrote:I had people who make six figure incomes watch me [blah, blah, blah]

Nick


Don't care either way about your arguments since I wouldn't put much into anyone's bragging about how much they know, but what the hell does someone's income have to do with anything? I've skied with someone that made 8 figure incomes, but it doesn't mean I can ski worth a shit (he ain't so great, either)
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Postby Schlekeway » Wed May 12, 2010 5:28 pm

mconnell wrote:
Schlekeway wrote:I had people who make six figure incomes watch me [blah, blah, blah]

Nick


Don't care either way about your arguments since I wouldn't put much into anyone's bragging about how much they know, but what the hell does someone's income have to do with anything? I've skied with someone that made 8 figure incomes, but it doesn't mean I can ski worth a shit (he ain't so great, either)


Sorry for being vauge then. They are d-1/nfl college strength and conditioning coaches, not rich ski instructors. Not trying to come off as a braggart..... I hate the online world. Either you are an idiot with no experience or you are bragging if you try to validate what you are saying, either way Im done cluttering up this forum, believe what you will since you will anyways. Anyone wishing to converse further on this topic with me can pm me. Have a good one.
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Postby bird » Wed May 12, 2010 5:58 pm

Schlekeway wrote:I said MOST people who teach crossfit are full of it, not all people.

I have experienced first hand a crossifit instructer teaching people how to do deadlifts, squats, and power cleans INCORRECTLY AND BLATENTLY FALSE.

Nick
I wasn't being disrespectful, just pointing out inaccuracies. I don't doubt you had "a" bad experience from "a crossfit" instructor. But going from that to "MOST" is quite a leap and really unsubstantiated.
And if look at Rippetoes book Starting Strength which is sort of the CF bible for strength, there is no mention of Olympic lifts. You should know the difference between Oly lifts and power lifts.
The internet is not a bad place to share and exchange ideas. If you make broad statements based on opinion only, you may not like the replies.
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Postby jthomas » Wed May 12, 2010 6:40 pm

I have never understood why the topic of Crossfit generates such hostility. Given the way it has grown explosively in the last few years, it should be no surprise that some of the newer affiliates with newly minted instructors are less than stellar. I mean, look on their home page at the number of affiliates; they are everywhere on earth. Also, I have detected a certain cult-like vibe that I don't particularly care for.

Luckily, the CF gym I go to is one of the older ones. The owner has incredible experience in strength training, cross country & collegiate rugby coaching, etc. Unfortunately, it is possible to get the Level 1 certification and open a gym with very little training or experience. Bottom line, anyone considering CF should check out the gym & coaches very carefully, but that is true of any training program.

Jim Thomas
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