The squat is one of the best exercises you can add to your fitness routine, no matter what your goals are, and no matter how much experience in the gym you actually have.
Squats engage a wide range of muscles (including your quads and glutes, thighs, calves and hamstrings, but they also work on your abdominals, obliques and upper back), and this is precisely what makes them a staple in any exercise routine. They not only work on your strength, but they also contribute to overall stability.
However, as with any exercise, injuries are common with squats, so let’s explore the most common ones and how to prevent them:
Knee pain is the most common injury caused by improper squatsand poor squat patterns.
Depending on where the pain is located, you could suffer from jumper’s knee, runner’s knee, patellar tendinitis, or any number of other knee injuries and strains.
All of these knee problems are caused by the increased stress on your knee joints and tendons that come from poor squat mechanics.
Lower back pain
Because we as a society tend to spend too much time sitting (and often improperly), our backs and cores are not as strong as they should be.
When squatting, the lower back can be injured and the muscles pulled rather easily, especially if they are not used to the strain.
The thing with squats is that the lower you go, the more strain there is on your lower back (and knees), and you might actually be doing more harm than good.
Instead of bringing your glutes all the way to the floor, try to do a 90 degree squat, where your things are parallel to the floor, as opposed to going all the way down.
Our hips also suffer from prolonged sitting, and as they are majorly involved in the squat, they tend to suffer too.
If your hip muscles are limited in mobility, chances are you will feel pain or tightness when squatting.
The most common type of hip pain you can experience is hip bursitis, which is essentially an inflammation of the hip muscles, and can cause tenderness to the touch, and even make walking difficult.
If your ankles are not mobile enough, your hips might also suffer during a squat, due to extensive hip flexor strain.
Plantar Fasciitis occurs most often in the heel, but can also travel up the arch of the foot. It manifests itself as a sharp pain in the heel early in the morning or after sitting, and can reduce your comfort while walking.
If you put too much stress on your feet while squatting, you are likely to cause yourself an injury.
Remedies, treatments, and how to avoid injury
All of these injuries are common and most often treatable with simple rest. However, if you want to prevent them from happening again, you need to work on your squat form, and make sure you are executing each rep properly.
You can start by practicing motion mechanics and proper squat technique on a v squat machine, allowing your body to get to know the movements better, thus preventing further injury. Make sure you don’t add too much weight too soon, and focus on form rather than the pounds.
If your pain worsens, prevents you from functioning properly, or if you feel you require medical attention, visit your doctor as soon as possible. While these injuries tend to be mild, they can cause further complications if left untreated, so if you are not getting better on your own, make sure to seek medical attention.