Are squats bad for your knees?

Many times patients and clients say that they can’t squat, lunge, or do leg extensions because they “have bad knees.” Yet, they still manage to get up and down from the floor, climb stairs, and sit and stand from a chair. All of these daily activities use the motions of squatting, lunging, and leg extensions.

Much of the confusion arises from bad experiences with machines in the gym and fear of pain. Some of the gym machines like the knee extension and leg press are quite difficult to line up correctly. Repeated motions against a load on an incorrectly aligned machine can cause injury.

Many times those with “bad knees” have avoided these motions for so long that the quadriceps muscles and glutes become very weak. This can happen to people of all ages and activity levels.

The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy recently released a patient recommendation on how to start strengthening to be able to perform these motions again. The recommendation is to perform squats to 45 degrees and leg extensions to 45 degrees as a way to get started.

Here is an image of what this looks like:

Start by performing 1 sets of 5-15 repetitions in the green ranges. Once you are pain free in these ranges, then you can start working up to 3 sets of 15. When this is easy, start progressing into the yellow ranges. This will help you improve your quadriceps strength  and function in a matter of weeks.

The full article can be found via this link.

If you have a current knee injury, consult with your Physical Therapist on appropriate timing and progression before you try these exercises at home.

Questions? Comments? We love to hear from you. Leave us a post.

This article was written by Meredith Butulis, DPT. Meredith works at our Eden Prairie office. You can contact her  and view her background via this link.