Proper Squat Form to Prevent Injury
Squatting is a functional movement that most of us do on a daily basis, whether it is to pick something off the floor, unloading the dishwasher, jumping, and transitioning from sitting to standing (or vice-versa). It is also an excellent exercise to strengthen your hips, knees, and even your ankles!
It is important, however, to use proper form when squatting in order to ensure that the correct muscles are strengthened as well as to prevent injury. The most important thing to prevent when squatting is something called dynamic valgus, which means allowing your thighs to turn inwards, knees to come together, and lower legs to move outwards.
Squatting with dynamic valgus puts you at risk for injury, particularly to your knees, as it puts excessive strain on the ligaments on the inside of the knees. It can lead to tearing your ACL or MCL, patellofemoral pain, or iliotibial band syndrome.
To perform a squat with correct form, make sure that your knees are facing directly forwards in line with your feet, feet shoulder width apart, and that you bend from the waist and stick your bottom out behind you like you are sitting back into a chair. It can help to practice this in front of a mirror to ensure that you are using correct form.
It can be challenging to break the habit of squatting with incorrect form, particularly if you have been squatting this way for years! Physical therapy can help you re-learn the proper movements and form, as well as address any of the underlying issues that may be contributing to dynamic valgus, such as glute and quad weakness, difficulty with coordination, or tight calf muscles.