Pain Free Squatting | Proper Squat Form Starts With Your Feet

Have you ever heard someone mention that squatting hurts their knees, squats aren't safe, or not to let your knees go over your toes? Stop...

Squats aren't bad for your knees

No matter how bad your knees are or how unsafe you think squatting is, there is some variation that you can do.

While squat variations are endless and below are just a few examples.

They can all be separated into just two buckets based on how the weight is distributed. One bucket is anterior loaded (weight is placed in front of you) and the other is posterior loaded (weight is placed behind you).

Anterior Loaded Front Squats, Goblet Squats, Rear Foot Elevated Squats, Sissy Squats
Posterior Loaded  Back Squats, Split Squats, Overhead Squats

 

Anterior loaded exercises will place more torque on the knees than their posterior counterparts. In an attempt to prevent knee issues while squatting, coaches and trainers teach their clients to "not let your knees drift over your toes". What they really should say is feel the heel, which means maintaining heel contact with the floor throughout the squat.

Keeping your heel locked to the ground will prevent any excessive knee drift and in turn will challenge your foot/ankle mobility. If you want a great ankle mobility exercise, give THIS one a try before your next squat session. 

Your feet affect everything else in your body and any issue at the ground will work its way up the chain. This means that your footwear choice is crucial for maintaining proper squat form and reducing your risk for injury. 

Your feet act and move independently within all sneakers, which makes the sneaker respond and contort. Instead of putting force and energy directly into the ground, you waste it through the sole and sides of the sneaker. This is an inefficient and poor use of energy or what is referred to as an energy leak. You can see this in the below picture. 

 Footwear choices for squatting. How sneakers affect the squat and rest of the body.

Notice how the heel is far off the ground and the contorted side wall on both sneakers. 

Here is the same squat without shoes.

Pedestal Footwear. Barefoot training for a better squat.

In the above picture, you clearly see solid contact with the ground and while both feet are pronating, there is no disturbance to the natural movement pattern of the foot. Force and energy is directed straight into the ground in an efficient manner. Your feet are moving freely!

Another important element here is that these were just bodyweight squats with no added load. You can imagine how unsafe and inefficient sneakers would be under load. 

Whatever squat variation you are a fan of or decide to do next, make sure to ditch your shoes and maintain solid heel contact throughout the movement. 

Be well,

Mike

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