How to Squat Properly and Not Hurt Your Knees or Back
Most people who come in and train with me do not know how to squat properly.
If you want to protect those knee joints and back all while building a firm booty you’re going to need to know how to squat properly. I am going to break it down for you so you can protect your knee joints and your back while performing a regular squat.
So do you know how to squat properly???
Most people don’t.
I cringe when I get a new personal training client and they go to show me a squat. Their knees are forward over their toes and they look like they’re going to fall forward.
I cringe because it’s really scary… not only do my red flags for personal training go off but also my background of physical therapy just screams to me that you’re going to have knee pain knee problems and back pain (if you don’t have it already)
So here’s what I tend to see people doing wrong or incorrectly performing a squat:
- Weight In Toes
- People tend to shift their weight forward allowing the knees to push past their toes.
- This is very bad for your knees. It puts a lot of shearing pressure on your knees.
- Cervical Position
- The other thing I see, is your neck being foreshortened and they bring their head up.
- When you tilt your head up your neck is in bad position for your cervical spine. *Please note this is for performing a regular squat. If you were doing a weighted front squat you will need to keep your head up to allow the barbell position. More on that in another blog 😉
- You want to have a straight line from head to tush as you go down. Your focus should be at a 45 degree angle down.
- Tailbone Tucking Under
- The other thing I see is the booty tuck (a.k.a. “Butt wink” …I don’t know who named it that?? But I prefer booty tuck 🙂
- A lot of people go down into the squat and rounded the lower back and tuck the tailbone under. This is a great way to get a herniated disc!! (Please note my sarcasm! No one wants a herniated disc.)
- When descending into the squat, you want to think about your tailbone going out and down in a diagonal line.
How To Squat Properly
- The proper way to squat is to imagine you are wearing ski boots. If you have ever skied before these boots do not allow you to shift forward.
- You want to keep your knees over your ankle joint as best as possible. The knees may drift a little bit forward depending on your flexibility but you want to sit back in your heels.
- You want to make sure your knees are tracking in line with your metatarsal (which is the center of your foot – where your shoelaces are).
- Drop down into the squat and then come back up.
How low should you go to squat properly?
Depends on if you have knee issues
If you can’t get down to 90 degrees that is totally fine.
You do what you can do. If you find you are at a 45-degree bend and you’re starting to curl your tailbone you need to stop at that point. Once you can descend into the squat with the tailbone pointing in the correct position ONLY then can you go down lower into your squat. Get the position correct and eventually progressed down to 90 degree bend. You can go a little bit below 90 if you are in the proper position. I don’t see the need for you to go all the way down to your ankles. I’ll do future post on why I feel that is not necessary for the average fitness goer.
Do you have a question on how to squat properly? Leave a comment below and I will be happy to answer it.