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How Different Squats Load Your Joints Differently | Ep. 108 | Movement Fix Monday

Dr. Dan Pope joins me again this week to extend our series on how different styles of lifts load joints differently (and how that can relate to certain lifts being painful and others being pain free).

In the squat, the main considerations are torso angle and shin angle.

The more vertical the torso, the more angled the shin in a squat.

The more angled the torso, the more vertical the shin.

Two Examples

Front squat

In the front squat (or overhead squat or goblet squat) there is relatively vertical torso with more angled shin. The implications of this are that the low back has less shear stress to control, but the knees will be under higher stress.

If someone's back hurts with a back squat (either high bar or low bar) or box squatting, a more vertical-torsoed (is that a word?) squat will likely be better tolerated.

So long as that person doesn't have any knee issues, that should be fine.

Low back back squat

The opposite is true for the low bar back squat. In this variation, the shin is essentially vertical, but the torso is more angled. This means the knee will be under less stress, but the back will be under more stress by having to control more shear loading.

So the athlete with anterior knee pain would likely prefer this squat variation compared to a front squat. But they have to stress their back in a different way to accomplish that.

Split Squat

If someone has back and knee pain, they may prefer doing a split squat. In a split squat, depending on style (front foot elevated/ rear foot elevated / no feet elevated), the shin and back can both be vertical, decreasing the knee and low back stress.

Choices Choices

Knowing how the different squat styles change the angles and the type of load joints have to control can help  you make decisions for yourself or your athletes depending on what they have going on. As a general rule, it is good practice to vary the type of squatting you do regularly so that you don't end up over loading your knee or back over time. So doing a few week cycles emphasizing one squat style and then using a different squat style for a few weeks is a good thing to do.

Hope you enjoyed this post.

The program Dan and I are making, 'A Trainer's Guide to Modifying Workouts for Athletes with Pain' will be available soon and is going to be composed of around 8 modules that are packed with videos, articles, handouts, cheatsheets, ebooks, and more on all of this stuff. To get notified when that becomes available, fill out the form at the top of the page and I will be sure to let you know.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan

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