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Nolan & Jade Foster

Full (deep) Squat versus half squat

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Good evening kit

Hope you're uk trip went well, heard all good things from Regan and Christine.

I wondered if it would be ok to ask you to remind us of something you mentioned on an mg workshop in relation to squat's. I recall you going into some detail about the benefits of a full squat (all the way down) over a half squat, ie squatting only as far ad a 90 degree angle at the knees. You mentioned something about it and I made perfect sense. If you have 5 minutes spare could you elaborate again.

in the past doing half aquats has killed my knees, my knees don't like half squats at all (yes there was alignment). Personally i never do them with clients. But was interested in your take on how holding weight at a 90 degree squat effects the knee

Jade and Nolan

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Sure. Half squats require the quads, pulling on the patella tendon over a 90 degree angle at the knee, to use the kneecap as a brake over the condyles of the knee (and as you note, if alignment is even slightly off, knee pain can result). Leverage of the quads on the lower leg is approaching a minimum in the half squat position.

And anyone who does do full squats will tell you that the "sticking point" is just at that point under parallel to just above parallel—and this is where the force transmission on the lower legs and feet changes over from mainly glutes to mainly quads.

In lowering to the bottom position of the full squat, the deceleration is spread over the full ROM, and the knee joint closes as much as it can—and the bottom position is cushioned by the calf and hamstring bulk. You literally sit on yourself. If you have the ROM, and strong enough glutes, there is no knee strain at all in the full squat. Olympic lifters only do full squats and (compared to all track and field athletes) have the lowest incidence of knee pain (and low back pain, too, incidentally). hth, kl

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So if you're not flexible enough to do a full squat (especially while maintaining a straight back / anterior pelvic tilt most of the way) is it better to let your hips do the 'butt wink' and go down as far as possible, or stay working at the ROM you can get to even if it's only a half squat?

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There are no hard rules. If you are unloaded or sitting and resting in a squat by all means let the back round and the tail tuck. There can be a point in trying to stick the bottom out ie. un-tuck the tail, when doing bodyweight squats, especially if you plan to work on weighted squats in the future.

Also a small amount of butt wink in the bottom of a squat is not something I would worry about even in a weighted squat, as long as it is excessive and proper care is taken not go much deeper.

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@ Phi: excellent advice re. unloaded squat; you see this everywhere in Asia, and they can ALL squat (for hours, if need be). "Butt wink": only the internet could have come up with that one.

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