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Joe Daniels: I Know Squat

Raise your hand if you have knee pain.   

I’m picturing 50% of you just lifted your arms.

Knee pain and back pain are incredibly prevalent in our culture. But what if it's reversible? And just as important, preventable?

By reversible, I mean decreasing the pain in your joints without surgery or physical therapy. For most of the cases I have seen, it is entirely possible to reverse the issue if you know what to do.  

For many of us, injuries and repetitive use strains happen because we come disconnected from our movements. We have replaced quality movement mechanics with efficiencies to get the job done faster.

There are several reasons for why we become disconnected: injuries, muscular imbalances, and a simple lack of movement are all part of the problem with joint stiffness and pain.

You may have even been told by a doctor that you shouldn’t squat because it’s bad for your knees, though on the other side of the argument,  everyone needs to squat at some point in the day.  

...It's called using the toilet.

So before you stop using the toilet because of your knee pain, let's see what we can do to help it.

  1. Learn How to Properly Squat.  Your children naturally understand the mechanics of the movement. They are efficient at dissipating their body weight throughout the range of motion in their hips, knees and ankles. A Squat is NOT just a knee bend. Brace your spine by engaging your torso musculature. Initiate the movement first with your hips then allow your knees to bend.  Focus on having your weight and center of gravity shift backwards, keeping your whole foot on the floor without losing your balance. Pretend you are sitting to a bench (or a toilet…). Do not let your knees excessively go over your toes.  While you can learn a lot from YouYube and videos, here is where it is highly recommended to work with a professional even if it were for one session: Videos can show you how to perform a squat properly but they cannot correct your form once you start. There are many qualified professionals in the area that will be able to assist you.  Kettlebell swings done correctly are a great exercise to increase your awareness of using your hips and glute complex.

  2. Increase HIP and ANKLE Range Of Motion. Throughout our lives of sitting in school, cars and the office, we have basically turned off our proper hip function. Many of us have also hindered ankle range of motion from the footwear we choose for fashion such as high heeled shoes and boots. These shoes leave the knee joint handling most of the load when we squat.  Foam rolling, yoga, and other forms of mobility work can keep your joint and tissue moving freely and  working correctly.

  3. Decrease time seated and move more. If you have a desk job, try to just stand up every 15 to 30 minutes. It will help keep your hips from getting tight. Raise your arms over head. Take a large breath. We should do this all day to keep from molding ourselves into the chair. Do you have a dog? Then start by walking it more, even if it's five minutes a day more than you used to. Once you start moving more you can start lightly into other activities. Movement is contagious. Learning new skills and movement is beneficial for our body, mind, and spirit. My biggest recommendation is whatever you do that is new, start light. A small hike on a path around East Fork Lake for an hour is a far better progression than a 2-day thru hike with your son on the Appalachian Trail.  We are a culture of NOW and MORE when we should be a nation of SMART and PROGRESSIVE if we want to lead a decreased pain and injury-proofed lifestyle. Once you are moving around more you will become connected to your body in a better way and hopefully more aware of pains that could be caused by improper mechanics.  

So there you have it. Let's get squatting with better form and less pain, whether it's with your 2-year old or 200 pounds.

Joe Daniels is the owner of SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength Studio in Latonia. Questions for Joe? Email [email protected].


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