Squats are a popular exercise practiced by people of all ages and with different objectives. However, it is too often performed incorrectly, which can lead to pain. This is why it is important to consult your physiotherapist to make sure you prevent any injuries.
This exercise is recommended for a variety of reasons. Among other things, it improves muscular strength and motor control of the lower limbs. It also improves functional level in some people, since the movement is similar to the one you do when you stand up from a chair, for example.
Squats involve all the muscles of the legs. It mainly strengthens the muscles of the buttocks and quadriceps, but also strengthens the hamstrings, the muscles of the calf as well as the stabilizer muscles of the lower back and abdomen.
Your physiotherapist may prescribe this exercise for a variety of conditions, such as lumbar sprains, herniated discs, patellofemoral syndrome, knee or ankle sprains or hip bursitis.
In order to perform a squat that will benefit you without putting you at risk of injury, it is important to follow 3 key rules:
- The kneecaps should never extend beyond the toes. Tip: Push your buttocks further back to maintain your balance.
- The kneecaps should follow the line of the second toe i.e. the knees should be straight forward, not inward or outward. Tip: Watch the direction of your knees by doing squats in front of a mirror.
- Perform the movement slowly and in a controlled manner.
There are also several variations of the squat. Depending on the purpose of the exercise, it can be performed :
- On one or two legs
- At different heights
- At different angles of foot opening (e.g. Sumo squat)
- On a flat floor or on an unstable base (e.g. on a bosu ball, on a trampoline, on a balance board)
- With or without weights (e.g. dumbbells, kettlebell, medicine ball, etc.)
- With or without a high jump
- With or without an elastic around the knees
- With or without a step
- With or without a ball between the knees
- With or without the back against the wall
You can consult your physiotherapist to find parameters and recommendations that will be adapted to your specific condition and that will help you target what you need to improve.
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