The squat, a popular exercise

The squat is a popular exercise practiced by people of all ages and with different objectives. However, it is all too often done in the wrong way, which can lead to pain. That’s why it’s important to see a physiotherapist to prevent further injuries.

This exercise is indicated for various reasons. Among other things, it improves muscle strength and motor control in the lower limbs. It also improves the level of function for some people, since the movement refers to the one that is performed when one gets up from a chair for example.

The squat recruits the entire leg muscles. It primarily strengthens the gluteal muscles and quadriceps, but also the hamstrings, calf muscles as well as the lumbar and abdominal stabilizing muscles.

Therefore, your physiotherapist may prescribe this exercise if you have a variety of conditions, such as lumbar sprain, herniated disc, patellofemoral syndrome, sprained knee or ankle, or hip bursitis, for example.

In order to perform a squat that will benefit you without putting you at risk of an injury, it is important to follow 3 key rules:

  1. The patella should never extend beyond the toes. Tip: Push your buttocks further back to maintain your balance.
  2. The kneecaps should follow the line of the 2nd toe i.e. the knees should face forward, neither inward nor outward. Tip: Watch the direction of your knees by doing squats in front of a mirror.
  3. 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 done:

  • On one or two legs
  • At different heights
  • At different angles of foot opening (e.g. Sumo squat)
  • On flat ground 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