Squats.. Most People Don't Do Them Correctly

Recently I was interviewed on a local radio station and one of the questions I was asked is what is the most common exercise I see people make.

My answer: 90-95% of the people I see doing squats are doing them incorrectly. Yes 90-95%

And what most people don’t realize is I’m not just talking about at the gym. No I’m taking day to day life… things like picking up the laundry basket off the floor, getting in and out of the car, sitting down in a chair and getting back up.. yep my friends those are all squats!

Have you ever injured yourself while squatting?

People often follow a work-out plan to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Most trainers emphasize on squat exercises as they strengthen the hips, knees, hamstrings and legs.

People think that squats are quite easy however, when performed correctly, they can be difficult and tricky. Moreover, improper squats can strain body structures like knees and hips, sometimes in very serious ways.

The most common squat mistakes I see people make:

Improper Posture & Foot Placement

A suitable posture is essential for proper squats. Squats tone the body, strengthen muscles and improve balance.

While squatting, the spinal cord should be straight and you must not bend forward too much. Otherwise, you will be in an improper posture that will strain the lower back as well as the neck.

You feet should roughly hip width apart and the toes angled out at roughly a 30 degree angle. Most people keep their feet facing forward which results in excess strain on the knees as they go in front of the toes.

By placing you feet at an angle and allowing your knees to follow your feet if/when they go over the toes the strain will be less on the knees.

Also do not let your knees fall in (move in towards each other) as this puts undue pressure on your ligaments.

In addition to putting pressure on heels, knees and glutes, pressure should also be put on the pelvic floor muscles.

Putting Too Much Weight on The Toes

Squatting puts pressure on the heels. If a person puts increased or uneven pressure on their toes instead of heels, this can lead to muscle strain around the ankles and knees.

Toes should be kept forward…don’t scrunch them into a ball which is a common thing people do while squatting and an even pressure should be put on the heels.

Squatting Too Low (or not low enough)

You should always complete a squat through its full range of motion – all the way down until your thighbone is parallel with the floor. When you squat beyond these 90°, there is increased pressure on the knees and hip joints.

Conversely, stopping before the full range of motion also puts additional strain on knees, ankles and hamstrings. Most people tend to only go down 1/3 to1/2 of the way which leads to building up the quad muscles and never recruiting the glutes.

This in turn leads to body imbalances which create balance and other issues.

Squatting Too Fast

Sometimes to tone your body and lose excess weight you may think that increasing the pace of exercises you will mean losing more calories.

This is not true when it comes to using weights especially the squat. In fact it can be downright dangerous as it will increase the chances of injury due to carelessness.

Think controlled downward motion then exploding up.

Also, Allowing your body to rest during squats is essential.

Improper Breathing:

People either tend to hold their breath for too long or breath irregularly when squatting.

Both situations can cause problems.

You do want to hold your breath while squatting as bracing (the technical term) your core protects your spine and also allows you to have more power as you lift up.

When you are ready to begin your squat take a deep breath and hold it. Complete your squat, exhaling as you rise up. Then pause to take another full breath before you repeat.

Squat are one of the best exercises (some argue THE BEST)) you can do. Squatting helps tone the body and maintain a chiseled figure. It also assists in burning fat and building muscle.

When starting new workout exercises, remember to consult professional trainers that can teach you the proper technique of squatting because as I said over 90% of the people who come to me are not doing squats correctly.

One final thought… If you believe you have sustained an injury, you can employ the RICE method: Rest the injured muscles; Ice them; Compress them; Elevate them to get proper blood flow. In case of persistent pain it is advisable to consult a doctor.