Squatting is one of those most common functional movements we, as humans, do each and every day. We sit down and stand up from chairs, sit on the toilet, and every time we get up from a seated position we are in effect, squatting. You probably feel your thighs bear the brunt of the work, though they’re not the only muscles that rise to the occasion. Aside from working the muscles in your thighs, butt, and hips, your core and back muscles are also involved, helping improve your posture, and carve a nicer looking backside, to boot.
And while strong legs look nice in shorts and help us do everyday stuff with more ease, we could all appreciate them even more in our later years. Strong legs and hips, particularly, are crucially important for healthy aging. You can live independently longer, perform activities of daily living without as much strain, and muscle and strength are both strong predictors of longevity.
The more squats are incorporated into our daily lives, the easier it will be for us to continue being active and independent as we age. A fairly recent study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning found that weighted squats (under supervision) can even help postmenopausal women suffering from osteopenia or osteoporosis improve bone mineral density in their spine and neck, in addition to boosting their strength.
If someone tells you to avoid squatting because “it’s bad for your knees,” this person probably doesn’t know much about squats. A review article in Sports Medicine determined that the stresses of squatting to various depths, even the really low ones, don’t reach the point where they could cause harm to the ligaments in your knees. In fact, the authors observed that the more you squat (with good form), the more your cartilage tissue can adapt and strengthen to handle the weight, just like your muscles do.
If you focus on good technique, squats can actually make your knees stronger and more injury-proof, as supported by the findings in this paper published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. So, it’s not the squats themselves that hurt your knees; it’s how you squat that’s probably hurting your knees. Watch the squat demonstration video below and get squatting!