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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:52 am 
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So I've recently restarted my weight lifting training. I started by following the SS routines which includes doing squats 3x a week.

I thought I had fairly good forms, until I went to see a physiotherapist for a general checkup before I begin to stack the weights up.

I showed her how I squat and she immediately pointed out to me that:

- my shins should always stay perpendicular, and the knees should never go past the ankles
- I should never squat past parallel

She wanted me to stop doing squats and do wall squat instead. I did those which seemed OK. So I wanted to try the way she showed me at the gym.

I tried to keep my shins straight, and it was ok except:
-I tend to bend my upper body more
-It's less stable, I shake more when I squat this way
-My knees hurts when I'm about half way down.

So, I'm wondering, is what my physiotherapist said correct? I'm willing to correct my forms even if I have to reduce weight, I just want to know what the best way is before I add weight and possible injuries.

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:52 pm 
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She said you should NEVER squat below parallel? What? Do these people still exist? Did she say squats are bad for your knees? I know some people shouldn't squat low due to pain or other condition, but for real most of people just can't. Due to mobility, weakness and tightness. Parallel is good, lower than that could be even better. I squat to parallel or a bit lower. I don't prefer the ass to grass style, but it's not like you should never do that.

The other stuff is just absurd. I have this feeling the physiotherapist has never squatted herself. Only then she would notice that keeping shins perpendicular is sheer madness and impossible. First off, it's nuts. Secondly, it works against the anatomy and movement of the human body. Third, it's bloody hard. Maybe when on a wall or smith that would work okay, since you don't need stabilization or any balance what so ever.
It just boggles me, I can't find any reason why shins should be purely straight up. The center of gravity is all wrong, if you try to keep your ankle angle at 90 degrees, it forces you to compensate by moving your body back. That causes alteration on stability and the center of gravity shifts backwards so much you have to tilt your upper body forward. Maybe for RDL or Good Mornings this could be near the truth, but not on squats.

(EDITED) Knees should not go over the tip of your toes, but they will go over your ankles, obviously. Many coaches say that knees shouldn't move much from over the toes ankle, and hip does most of the flexion. It's easier on the knees, and you learn to squat back and then down, not just back or not just down. And use your hips plus increase the mobility of your hip.

I wouldn't follow this advice by a long shot unless there is proper evidence for these claims. Rather film your squat and post it here or compare it to something like EliteFTS's So you think you can squat videos.
SEE HERE:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkF9QD7oCIA
It's the best squat teaching video to date. It's about the box squat, but same rules apply on normal back squats.

Simple cues on squat:
- Arch your back
- Squeeze the bar, keep elbows as front as possible to bring the chest up and keep the upper body in balance.
- Tighten your upper back and adduct scapulas when racking the bar.
- Keep you whole body and core tight for the whole movement.
- Sit back, the move starts from the hips. Then sit more downwards.
- Push knees out, don't let them cave in.

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Last edited by Dub on Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:58 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:52 pm 
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Thanks for the quick response.

I've always done squat with a wider stance with toes pointing out at about 40 degrees. Yesterday I tried it with a shoulder wide stance with toes pointing straight out (maybe a 5-10 degree angel) while keeping the knees in track.

I could squat deeper (15-20 degrees) past parallel with the first method, but with the second one, I can only go to about parallel.

So you are saying knees shouldn't go past ankles much, wouldn't this be the same as keeping the shins as straight as possible?

I've actually watched the whole 4 parts of the videos you posted, it was a good tutorial.

I'm also following everything you outlined except the elbows. I keep them as far back as possible instead of as front as possible.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:31 pm 
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Quote:
So you are saying knees shouldn't go past ankles much, wouldn't this be the same as keeping the shins as straight as possible?

OH Crap. I totally meant toes, not ankles. Knees shouldn't go past the tip of your toes when squatting. My bad. Something wrong in my brains or english or something.

Quote:
I've always done squat with a wider stance with toes pointing out at about 40 degrees. Yesterday I tried it with a shoulder wide stance with toes pointing straight out (maybe a 5-10 degree angel) while keeping the knees in track.
Wider stance forces you toes to point out, that's your hip and knee joints forcing the correct movement pattern. If this wouldn't happen, you knees would crash in and stuff would snap, crackle and pop. People squat differently. Squats have bit of different muscle activation too. It's most about how you feel, and what serves you best. The narrower the squat is, the straighter the toes point. Your joints usually force you knees and toes outwards if they are not out enough, shoulder width could use more angle than just a few. The move is just harder and less mobile people will most likely not handle toes straight method. It disables your ability to sit more back, and it has something to do with where you hold the weight on your feet.

Quote:
I could squat deeper (15-20 degrees) past parallel with the first method, but with the second one, I can only go to about parallel.
No wonder there.


Quote:
I'm also following everything you outlined except the elbows. I keep them as far back as possible instead of as front as possible.
Why?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:06 pm 
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This may duplicate Dub's post some as I didn't read it all.

The more vertical your shins, the further back your hips have to go and the more your back has to fold over. That's simple physics, since the center of mass must be over your base of support in order to keep from falling over. In the wall squat or a smith squat, that's not true since your back is being supported. They're not really squats due to that factor alone.

In a high bar squat, your knees will be further forward and your back more vertical. Most Olympic weightlifters squat this way. They also squat very low and have no knee issues.

In the low bar squat, your shins will be more vertical and you back will be bent over further but you still go below parallel. This is the way power-lifters squat. Except when attempting extreme loads, power-lifters usually don't have knee issues.

Quote:
-It's less stable, I shake more when I squat this way
-My knees hurts when I'm about half way down.


Practice with no load, i.e. body weight only, until you have the flexibility to get to the position you want. If you'r knees hurt on a body weight squat, you have no business squatting anyway. Go as low as you can without pain and gradually increase the range of motion. Once you're at proper depth, practice with an empty bar. Add a little weight and continue, always ensuring you have the form you want before going up further in weight and you can do it without pain.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:12 pm 
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Just being a physiotherapist doesn't qualify a person to coach weight lifting.

The vertical shin thing is preached by powerlifters, but it is largely achieved by wide stance. Experiment a little without no or very little weight, and you'll see that the wider your stance is, the more vertical your shins become. It's not necessary to try to achieve it. I would second what Dub said, that keeping the knees back of the ankles in nearly impossible for normal human beings, and this is the first time I've heard of anyone preaching this. More people worry about knees past toes. This is still not set in stone. The important thing here is ankle flexibility. If you can squat deep and keep your feet flat on the floor, then who cares how forward your knees are? Ok, ok, a lot of people care, but they shouldn't worry about it. The important issue for the knees is being aligned with the feet. They should point the same direction as the toes, and be in the same plane as the feet.

Stance width is a highly individual thing. Experiment, using light loading until you find the right width for you, then stick with it. You'll be able to tell what's best.

And it's hard to believe that anyone with any knowledge of the squat (obviously, your PT isn't in this category) would still be saying not to go below parallel. Incredible. Why, for goodness sake? What harm do they imagine? Other than the vague "it's bad for your knees", but no one can show how it's bad.

I hope you got something useful from your time with the PT, but squat training wasn't it! Did she also tell you not to lift anything heavy overhead?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:31 pm 
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Thanks for chiming in doc.

She diagnosed me with minor rotator injury/inflammation and give me a couple cable pull exercises. It is strange that she didn't say anything when I mentioned that I do standing military press also.

She did give me a name for my knee problem. It's rather long and I forgot the name.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:32 pm 
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Patellofrmoral syndrome?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:52 pm 
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YES! I think that's it. I was wondering why they call you doc!

For the knee problem, she gave me wall squats as exercises, and she said next time she'll try to loosen some muscles in my legs/hips.

I just read a bit on the subject. The only time when I feel/hear the grinding is when I'm lying on my back, with my knee bent at 90 degrees, and trying to bring the feet up in the air WHILE tensing my quad muscles. It still hurts if I don't tense the muscles, but just no grinding and not as severe.

It also hurts when I try:

-going up stairs, especially if I try to do two steps at once
-jumping down from anything higher than a foot
-doing lunges
-sitting while trying to bring the leg up and straighten it (If I tense the quad it'll start to hurt at about 1/3 way to all the way up; if I don't it only hurts when the leg is close to parallel to the floor)

The pain is mostly right beneath the knee cap, it feels like something is pushing against it.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:13 pm 
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Okay, I'm not an expert on rehab, or I'm not a physiotherapist. I don't know the exact cure for patellofemoral issues, but I'll give you some info.

The patella, or the kneecap, is practicly a loose bone from the knee. By saying that, I mean that I doesn't do contact with either femur (the tighbone) or the tibia (the shin). There are lots of ligaments around the knee, and patellar ligament is one of them that goes over the knee joint. There are also some patellar ligaments stabilizing the joint and patella. Well the whole knee and joint capsule is covered with ligaments.
Anyway, There is only one muscle that goes under the pattela, aka is patellofemoral. The only muscle that locates in the anterior knee, and inserts to the tibia, is Quadriceps Femoris. It has four heads, and they all inserts through the same ligament wich goes under the patella. Some heads of the muscle attach to the patella through this ligament.
Maybe that's why you have pain when you extend your knee. There might be something on the ligament or the head of the muscle.

Now something that I have thought of is that you could try to strengthen your posterior chain. You could have weak PC, over somehow you could overload your knee joint, and don't produce enough power from the hips. I would maybe train the Hamstrings and glutes more, see if that works. This kind of stuff include RDL's, Deadlifts, Glute bridges/Hip thrusts, Hamstring raises or curls. Stuff like that. They are easy on the knee joint and quadriceps femoris, as the movement focuses more on hip movement than knee movement. Maybe even some unilater, stabilizing work. Like single-leg RDL's, or other PC moves. If your knee allows it. Do not do this kind of stuff if your knee has pain or severe discomfort.

And if the real squats don't cause discomfort or pain. SQUAT. Lots.

Remember I'm no specialist, and promise no result. Just my 2 cents on this.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:25 pm 
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I think my hamstrings are weaker and tighter compared to my quads. I am able to reduce/eliminate the pain if I manipulate the way my muscle contracts or if I hold and press certain points around the knee joint.

What you said makes a lot of sense. Right now I'm following the SS, and I do squat 3x a week, while DL only 1x or 2x a week. Should I up my DL frequencies?

When I squat, there is a little knee pain only at one particular angle while going down, I've been on this schedule for about 3 weeks now. Right now I can do 3x5 185lbs fairly easily. I just want to correct all the issues before I up the weight.

I'm 6' and 190lbs by the way.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:43 pm 
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Another thing that came into mind is soft tissue work. Try to foam/tennis ball roll your quads, popliteus, hamstrings, TFL, adductors and glutes. Practically everything around your legs. That could ease the tight muscles.

Quote:
What you said makes a lot of sense. Right now I'm following the SS, and I do squat 3x a week, while DL only 1x or 2x a week. Should I up my DL frequencies?
I wouldn't recommend that- Deadlifts (and squats) are very taxing on your whole body and nervous system. Especially the back and core muscles. Once or max twice a week is good for deadlifting. Instead, insert more PC work to assist the deadlifts. Once or twice a week.

You could try Box Squats too. They activate the PC more, and are easier to knees.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:01 pm 
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Well I would like to stick to ATG squats since I really like doing them, and it provides fuller ROM thus better muscle stimulation. I just wasn't sure about my form after what my therapist had told me.

Maybe I'll take a video one day and post them here.

Another with DL, I find that it doesn't activate my hams much, the majority of the lifts are done by my quads and lower back...


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:09 pm 
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lh0628 wrote:
Another with DL, I find that it doesn't activate my hams much, the majority of the lifts are done by my quads and lower back...


sit back more and keep your back arched


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:39 pm 
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Dub wrote:
Maybe that's why you have pain when you extend your knee. There might be something on the ligament or the head of the muscle.

Dub--PFS is a well-known syndrome. It's not a matter or something on the ligament or head of the muscle, but the patella is not centered properly in it's "groove" at the end of the femur. At least that's the long-accepted theory. One of the other names for this is "patellar tracking defect". The idea is that the medial quads are pulling the patella slightly to the inside, and so it rubs more on that side. The treatment has been terminal knee extensions.

Ih--if you have access to a knee extension machine, do a few sets of terminal extensions after your squats. Machines are different, but if you can set it so that you are just working the last 10-15 degrees of the motion, that should be fine. Do 2 or 3 sets of 8 or 10, heavy enough to feel like a little work, but not pushing too much. I used to have patients do them seated with fairly light ankle weights, and seemed to get fairly good results. Wall squats don't make sense to me, but there's a lot I don't know.

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