Why don’t we Squat?

Today’s post is going to come from the greatest exercise known to man, the squat.  No other exercise has ever been as effective at targeting so many different aspects of awesome than the squat (when performed properly): ankle, hip, and thoracic spine mobility, core stability, leg strength, and a big contributor toward reducing overall body fat.  Ask any coach about the number one exercise they’ll employ with their client or athlete, and it’ll be the squat.

So, my question to you is this….. why aren’t more people doing it?  Check out any gym on a Monday evening around 5pm and there won’t be any of the 15 flat benches at your commercial gym open for use (are you kidding me? What the hell do you think I’m training today it’s Monday I’m getting’ my BENCH on.), but somehow those squat racks stay empty (except for that jabroni doing barbell curls in there…get outta here with that hoopla). So what gives?  Behold…..

Suspected Reasons why we Don’t Squat


“it hurts my knees” or, “it hurts my back”

  • Knee pain while performing the squat.  This topic could have a whole blog post dedicated to itself only, but i’ll give you the brief version of what it typically means: In a simple sense, your posterior chain musculature (the muscles that make up the backside of your body…primarily your calves, hamstrings, glutes) do not know how to eccentrically lengthen to absorb the forces of the load you are using (barbell, dbs, whatever).  Quad-dominance is very common, and is related to the quadriceps groups receiving the majority of the load used in the exercise.  This in turn creates an abnormal strain on the patello-femoral joint, eliciting a sensation of pain.
  • Trunk stability is another candidate.  Core stability, specifically around the thoraco-lumbar-pelvic region is absolutely imperative when getting down in a deep squat.  If you lose the ability to consistently orient your ribs and pelvis in the midst of a loaded deep back squat, you run the risk of getting too much motion in your lumbar spine, placing too much stress through these segments.  Poor glute strength may contribute to this, which potentially could shift stress up the chain to the sacral/lumbar joint segments.
  •  Assymetrical 3d mobility or stability in the legs/hips is another.  This will lead to weight shifting to the more stable/mobile leg, which, if left unchecked over time, will lead to some nasty imbalances that will never resolve if the individual continues to utilize axial loading patterns in  bilateral positions to ranges of motion that the body can’t load into effectively and safely.  (that’s a mouthful, huh?)
  • Lack of ankle/foot motion and stability.  if the ankle can’t dorsiflex in a deep squat, via tightness at the soleus/gastroc/other muscle groups responsible for decelerating ankle dorsiflexion, or, for example, because of an osseus block in the talo-tibular or talo-fibular joint (the talus sits on top of the calcaneus, aka your heel bone), then the kinetic reaction up the chain of the body will result in the person getting excessive trunk flexion in attempts to achieve adequate squat depth, thus placing a huge amount of sheer stress on their body.

Part 2 to come!


Leave a Comment