Majority of research agrees that squats are safe and effective, if performed correctly. If not, they could cause unwanted injuries.
Avoiding injury is crucial
An over enthusiastic plunge to lunge, or a flop at a squat, may crush more than just your hopes of fitter body and leave you with a real pain in your knees or injure them grievously. Dr Sanjay Agarwala, orthopaedic surgeon explains, “What is often forgotten is that all these movements hinge or pivot on the knee. This versatile joint bears the strain of the entire body load pivoting on the cartilage, meniscii, ligaments and capsule of the knee.”He says that each excursion of going down or coming up in squats increases the pressure with torque on the meniscii, which can get irreparably damaged. “In lunges the shear at the back of the knee places a strain on the posterior capsule and all structures of the extended knee, whilst the flexed knee in front needs to be placed precisely to distribute the forces evenly. In the heat of the moment a single misstep could wrench the knee, or worse a slip could cause the knee to bang on the floor,” he says. Experts say that it is best to learn and start these under supervision and gradually build on the number of repetitions gradually.
Follow the right technique
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Miten Sheth believes that the squat is one of the most basic movements the human body can perform. “Revered as the king of all exercises, its reign has spanned decades atop the iron game. From bodybuilding to Akhada fitness, the squat is a vital component of anyone’s training repertoire. It engages the entire lower body and core, and is perhaps the most functional movement around.However, proficiency in squats takes time. One cannot simply stand free, bob up and down like a buoy, and make substantial progress. The squat requires a slew of technical considerations, form corrections, and specific, nuanced individual adjustments,” he says.
Perform exercises correctly
While exercising, the problem arises only when we are performing them incorrectly. Dr Sachin Tapasvi, consultant in arthritis, joint replacements, arthroscopy and Sports medicine says, “The common mistakes are lifting your heels, leading with your knees ahead , allowing your knees to wobble inwards or ignoring your core. Such faulty techniques may cause adverse effects and may also damage the knees or ankles. So, first thing is to get the technique absolutely right.”
Experts say that the other problem is pain. One of the major reasons why people get pain while doing squats and lunges is that they have either a tight calf muscle or a tight pelvis. Dr Sachin explains, “Either of these will place the lower limb susceptible for abnormal and eccentric loads. A stiff patella or kneecap will also not permit easy gliding of the knee and may also lead to abnormal stresses. These issues surely need to be addressed before you challenge yourself more or add weights.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Differences in energy expenditure during squatting can be attributed to the various forms of movements, intensities, weights, repetitions, sets and types of items (Smith machine or barbell). There is data to indicate that deep squats and addition of weights and/or resistance increase forces across the patellofemoral joint (behind the kneecap).
AVOID SQUATS FOR THESE REASONS:
1. The glutes and hamstrings are muscles located at the back of the thigh. These two muscles are often neglected and over time become weak, especially in people who sit for most of the day, drive to office or lead a sedentary life. When you squat with weak hamstrings and glutes, the body overcompensates by using lower back muscles more. This may potentially lead to ‘overuse’ lower back issues.
2. Many people have a habit to slouch forward (develops over time). If such people start weighted squats before postural correction, they are bound to overload the back.
3. Teenagers, especially obese females and/or those with flat feet (over-pronators) are more prone to anterior knee pain (around the kneecap) if and when their squat quotient exceeds a certain level. This level of tolerance is subjective and may be minimal for some adolescents.
4. Hypertensive individuals and those at risk of stroke should avoid squatting as it can lead to a sudden significant rise in blood pressure according to some reports.
GET THE MOST OF YOUR WORKOUT!
Whilst all of us rue the fact that we cannot do spot reduction and initiate fat loss, building specialised regions of muscle groups is possible, by exercise. If you follow correct technique and have a good flexible joints and muscles, you will never face any issue with those fantastic workout regimes. Simple changes may help you get the most of your workout.
POINTS TO PONDER
- Exercise builds up stamina and endurance like marathon running.
- For flexibility and mobility one could do yoga, stretches and Tai Chi.
- For muscle strength, toning and bulk, one will need weight lifting.
- You can burn fat with calorie expenditure.
- Squats and lunges are for the lower body, the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and even the lower spine. Hence the core also gets strengthened.
- For the uninitiated and older people, squats and lunges are a sure recipe for strains and aches as a new class of muscles come into play.
- For the properly initiated, these are a class apart to develop the lower limbs and torso.
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