Squats are one of the best exercises for full body strength. As our core stabilizes, our upper body holds the weight and our lower body controls both the descent of the weight and pushes through the return back into a standing position. This full body exercise is a beneficial addition to any workout routine. How do we ensure a pain-free squat?
Without a one-on-one consultation with a staff trainer, it’s impossible to identify an exact cause of pain. The anatomical differences between you and a fellow exerciser out-number the variations of squats, and that’s saying a lot! However, here are five tips that may help the next time you squat to make sure it’s pain free.
Avoid overly wide stances. Setting up with our feet too wide creates tension from our hips through to our knees and potentially causes discomfort in those areas. Try moving the feet closer together, if you’re setting up in a wide stance.
Knees should be in line over the toes. As we squat down, think about pushing the knees along an imaginary line through our second and middle toes. If we find our knees cave in toward each other, this may cause discomfort on the inside of the knee.
Brace the core. Pain may not always be felt in our lower body. Engaging and bracing the core protects the lower back and prevents it from rounding as we squat. This rounding can cause discomfort the day or two after a workout.
Choose the right depth. You and a coworker might not look exactly the same when you squat, and that’s okay! Some people prefer to stop a little bit above parallel, while others squat much lower. Find the depth that works best for you.
Ramp up your working sets. Transitioning from sitting at your desk into a heavy squat when the muscles aren’t warmed up may cause discomfort in a number of places. Make sure you warm up properly and incorporate some bodyweight squats before getting into your heavier, working sets.
If you still are feeling pain when you squat after trying these tips, visit a staff trainer next time you’re at RCW. They’ll watch you move and be able to offer some individualized suggestions. Our muscles should feel worked or sore during a workout, but we never want to feel pain while we move!