Is squatting bad for your knees?
Is deep squatting harmful for your knee
If your knees go past you toes when you squat, is that bad?
I get these questions all the time and especially if patients have heard these half-truths from their doctor, its hard to make them understand that “IT DEPENDS”
First Things First: SQUATTING IS NOT BAD FOR YOUR KNEES
Squatting is part of our daily life and squatting exercises can really help for people with knee problems. Squatting can bring out some issues if you do not have sufficient mobility in your ankle or hip; or if you do not have proper stability around the knee. If you do not have any active problems, squatting is fine. If you have active injuries, you might have to modify your squat some. BUT you can still squat!
Deep squatting, basically squatting below parallel or below 90degrees is not always bad. Deeper squats are actually less stressful for your ACL. But with some other conditions, you might need to “proceed with caution”
But what about the meniscus and the patellofemoral joint (joint between your knee cap and your femur)? While compressive forces on the meniscus and PFJ increase as depth increases, if you don’t have any prior injury to these structures there is no evidence that squatting deep will cause injury to these structures. However, if you do have a meniscal tear or PFJ pain, it is a smart idea to limit your depth to pain-free ranges. At least to start off with and then we should be able to progress.
If you have patellar tendon problems, it might also be smart to reduce the depth of your squat by using a box squat, or reverse lunges.
For people with hip impingement you may need to start in a pain free range, but as the injury resolves you should be able to progressively squat deeper as well. A healthy joint can handle a deep squat without pain.
Sometimes your low back can be sore with deep squatting, but this typically happens when you do not have sufficient mobility in you ankle, or hip and your back ends up compensating. A butt wink, some flexion of your low back at the base of the squat is normal; if its excessive, you may have to look at mobility or stability issues, but otherwise do not worry about it.