Saturday, August 29, 2009

Squats causing pain - What are you doing wrong?

Building up the quadriceps muscles protects the knee joint, slows the progression of osteoarthritis, and can decrease pain.
Squats are one of the more popular quads exercises but many people try them and quickly stop when the cause an increase in pain.
Squats are a common gym exercise but you need to do squats differently if you have osteoarthritis. Like any exercises for arthritis, it is important to do them in a pain free range of motion.
Everyone's knees are different so you may need to do a little trial and error but the following points should help:
  • When starting squats you should be doing shallow squats. Very shallow squats. This means your head should drop only 1 or 2 inches throughout the squat. Deep squats puts a lot of pressure on the knee and are nearly guaranteed to cause you pain.
  • When extending the knees after a squat you should not completely straighten you knee. Again, this is likely to cause aggravation.
  • Your aim is to fatigue the muscle without increasing your pain. The muscle is fatigued when it starts to wobble a little. 
  • Do squats slowly. You will find this harder and fatigue the muscle quicker. Aim to do your squats at roughly the speed you breathe.
  • You will usually be able to fatigue the quads in less than a minute. If you have to do more than 30 or 40 to fatigue the muscle, make the squats more difficult. You can do this by doing one legged squats. Keep them shallow and slow and hold onto something for support.
  • Since it only takes a minute to do, you can integrate these exercises into your everyday routine.  While you boil the kettle, squat. Toast on? Squats. On the phone, waiting for a lift, brushing your teeth - do all of these and you will be building strength without aggravation before you know it. Every time you fatigue you are sending a message to your brain to build more muscle. It doesn't matter how old you are, if you use them more, they get bigger, you use them less, they get smaller.

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