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Squatting: Busting the myths

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

Squatting is one of the most fundamental compound lifts that has a huge range of benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to building stronger joints, bones, and muscles, to increasing flexibility and improving coordination. The squat is a must-have when it comes to resistance training, however, the perfect squat technique is a very debated area of research.

More specifically, you may have heard of butt winks, knees going over toes, knees caving in or knee valgus, and the hip hinge. In this blog, we'll delve into what all of these terms mean and what they mean for your squat health.

Butt Wink

A very common saying in the squatting community, a butt wink is identified at the bottom of the squat movement, with the lumbar spine flexing and the pelvis moving into a posterior tilt position.

There is mixed evidence whether flexed spine squatting increases the risk of low back pain. The answer isn't so simple and needs to take into account a few more variables. Firstly, the load. There is some recent evidence that flexed spine lifting of less than 12kg doesn't increase the risk of low back pain. This is important when thinking about everyday tasks like picking up the washing and lifting your child from the floor. However, when squatting at the gym, most of us lift more than 12kg!

Secondly, we need to consider muscle activation patterns and physical stress tolerance. Different squat techniques result in different muscle activation patterns and joint stress. Squatting with a flexed spine has shown to increase the demand on your passive structures such as your ligaments which support your intervetebral discs. On the other end of the scale, squatting with an extended spine increases the activation of muscles in your back, increases segmental compression and increases the shear forces in your lower spine. For this reason, we recommend a neutral spine when squatting, especially when lifting heavier loads.

Knee valgus

Knees over toes

Hip Hinging

: There you have it, the most common squat myths busted! The main thing to remember is there is not a one size fits all approach. However, certain factors may place less stress on certain muscles and joints, allowing us to squat deeper and more comfortably.

Resources used:

Almuzara et al (2020) Scientific Reports

Rabelo et al (2018) Braz J Phys Ther

Nic Saraceni et al (2020) Orthop Sports Phys Ther

Madeleine B Reece et al (2020) BMJ Open Sport Exerc

Robert A Laird et al (2014) BMC Musculoskelet Discord

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