Squatting often gets a bad reputation because it can be associated with knee pain. However, if you have a good base of mobility and strength in your core, hips, thighs, feet, and ankles, then squatting can be a powerful exercise to develop leg and core strength and prevent knee problems.
For both men and women, maintaining strength in your legs and core is essential for living a healthy and active life. As we age, maintaining good muscle mass and overall strength are necessary to prevent injuries and preserve mobility.
Learning or improving your squat technique is one of the most effective movements for improving multiple areas of strength within your body. If you have knee pain, they should be part of your rehabilitation program once your pain subsides and you have developed prerequisite mobility and strength in your legs and core.
Below are four reasons squatting is so effective at improving knee health.
Strengthens your quadriceps muscles
If you squat deep with your knees traveling over your toes (yes, you read that right), you can strengthen your quadriceps (quads) muscles, which will enable you to generate and absorb force on your knees. This is true even if you have arthritis or osteoporosis.
Your quadriceps are four individual muscles on the back of your upper leg that runs from the back of your knee to your hip. These four muscles comprise the most significant portion of your thigh and are one of the most powerful muscles in your entire body. As you perform a proper squat, you expand and contract these muscles.
When you load the squat exercise with weight, you will further develop strength through your quad muscles. Strengthening your quadriceps muscles will help to alleviate knee pain by reducing the stress being placed on the other connective tissues (e.g., tendons, cartilage, meniscus, joint surface, etc.)
Improves your hip strength and ankle mobility.
When it comes to improving your knee health, you must not neglect the joints above and below the knee. The hip and the ankle work in conjunction with the knee with normal movements (e.g., squatting, walking, running, kneeling). If you squat deeply and with good technique, you will develop strength in your glutes and reinforce good ankle and hip mobility.
In order to squat deeply, you may need to first work on basic exercises to activate your hip muscles (e.g., bridge, triple flexion, clamshell) and develop ankle mobility (e.g., box ankle dorsiflexion). It would be best to gradually ramp up until you eventually perform some sort of weighted squat (e.g., Goblet squat, box squat, barbell squat). However, simple bodyweight squats also have enormous benefits and are an excellent starting point for anyone, regardless of their level of physical fitness.
Developing a strong squat will improve your overall strength and stability and can significantly reduce your risk of injury and recurrent knee problems.
Helps Build Muscle Mass
Squats for knee pain are an excellent exercise for building muscle mass. This helps prevent osteoarthritis and other joint diseases. It also improves your metabolism and how you look, feel, and perform. As mentioned above, building muscle mass at any age is critical because our bodies lose muscle mass at an increasingly higher rate once we hit age 50. This is especially true for women over 50, who statistically have a lower muscle mass than men at any age.
Building muscle mass in your core and legs is critical for healthy knees. You will build muscle mass if you are eating adequately and performing higher volume exercises with challenging weights. Of course, always follow the proper squat technique when adding additional resistance to your squat routine. If performed with good technique and tension, squatting can have tremendous overall health benefits for your entire body.
Builds Bone Density
Squats build bone density by stimulating your bone cells. This makes your bones more robust and less likely to break down. Like building muscle mass, building bone density helps prevent injuries and enables a more active life. Complex compound movements like a squat are excellent exercises for building bone density that helps prevent fractures from a fall or repetitive injury.
Are you interested in using the squat exercise to overcome knee pain? We invite you to request a consultation with one of our specialists. This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your knee pain, and foster confidence that we can help you. If you’re certain that we’re a good fit to work together, you can decide on the next step.
If you’re in knee pain but unsure about what you should do, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.