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Squat safely

There are some workout myths that refuse to die. In Fact, they are so universal that they give rise to ill-founded arguments.

     Print Edition: January 27, 2008

There are some workout myths that refuse to die. In Fact, they are so universal that they give rise to ill-founded arguments. Like the one that goes: “Running on hard surfaces like roads will harm your knees.” Heard that one? I’m sure you have. Nothing could be farther from truth. Running in proper form on a hard surface will not affect your knees, provided your knees are not injured or your bones weak. The trouble is many recreational runners run without proper technique and that can be injurious to their knees and even other parts of the body. For instance, while running, always land on the balls of your feet. Yes, those things are there on your feet too. The ball of the foot is the plump part where the toes join with the rest of the foot and experienced runners land lightly on that muscular portion of the foot and not on their heels or toes while running.That is an essential part of running properly and minimising injury. There are others but I’ll leave that for another installment of Treadmill.

Like the myth about running on hard surfaces, is another one that warns you against doing weighted squats for your leg workouts. “Don’t do squats; they mess up your knees,” is so universal that it has generated its fair share of quadriceps (thigh muscles) and glutes (butt muscles) challenged breed of fitness enthusiasts.

Squats are great routine to build into your gym regimen
Squats are great routine
Don’t believe me? Go to your own gym and see how many people do squats for their quads and glutes. Done properly, squats, it can be argued, can actually strengthen your knees and prevent them from getting injured. The squat is a compound exercise that not only works the thigh muscles but also provides a thorough lower body work out. While doing squats, your feet have to be flat on the floor and spaced slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Your toes should point outward but only slightly. For the back squat, the barbell bearing weights should be balanced across the upper back (not the neck). During the downward movement, your glutes and hips should be driving the motion and the chest should be out in its natural (not hunched) position. At the end of the downward motion, the thighs should be parallel to the floor and knees should not extend beyond the line of the toes (see illustration). The head should be up and eyes focussed in front (not below). When going back to the upright position, you should push upwards, exerting your thigh muscles and ensuring that your feet are firmly planted where they are and don’t move. Often rotary movement at the knees cause injuries so it is important to ensure that your knees don’t twist while going up or down. Nor should your hips move laterally while going up or down.

Try to use light weights to get your form and technique right before you start loading up the barbell. Experienced squatters can lift more than double their body weight doing squats. But don’t try to get there in a hurry—give it time and you could find that squats are great routine to build into your gym regimen.

Muscles Mani


Write tomusclesmani@intoday.com
Caveat: The physical exercises described in Treadmill are not recommendations.
Readers should exercise caution and consult a physician before attempting to follow any of these.

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