Squats, a dynamic strength training exercise, that has been a huge favourite among novices and professionals alike for aiding fat loss and muscle gain.
But did you know, it is also one of the most controversial exercises that are avoided by many? The common reason being doing squats can be painful. Have you recently made the decision of doing squats? Because if you are a beginner, then you will surely say that the squats hurt my knees or squats hurt my back. But, why do squats hurt?
Why you might wonder?
Squats are an essential exercise that provides numerous benefits to its practitioners but these workouts are avoided consciously. Squats if done without proper training can lead to injuries and people often end up hurting themselves severely.
Curious to know more?
If you are someone who is just working out and is curious to start squatting or if you are someone who had previously been injured while performing squats, then this guide is especially for you.
Keep on reading the article then as we share all the common mistakes that fitness enthusiasts commit and even the solutions that will help in fixing the problem.
ABC’s of squats
- Muscle groups on which squats effect on
Squats are one of the few exercises that can work on all the major muscle groups of the body. However, the obvious muscle groups that are targeted by this compound exercise are in the lower body which is the
- adductor (groin muscles)
- gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius (buttocks muscle)
- hip flexors
- quadriceps (muscle present in front of the thigh)
- hamstrings (muscle present in the back of the thigh)
- calves muscles
Apart from lower body muscles, squats work on the core muscles too.
Furthermore, different variations of the squats work on the different muscle groups in the body including shoulders, arms, chest, and back.
How to do squats?
To perform basic squats
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Keep your chest straight, core muscles engaged and shift your weight onto your heels.
- Take a deep breath in and lower your hips down as if you are going to sit on a chair.
- Make sure that your thighs become parallel to the floor.
- Hold the position for 5 seconds, exhale and then return to your starting position.
Benefits of performing squats
The benefits are quite lengthy but to summarize, some of the key benefits of performing squats are
- Helps in strengthening the core, therefore, helps in improving balance and maintaining good posture.
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Helps in burning calories faster
Why do squats hurt?
Now that we know the basics of the squats workout, let us now look at some common mistakes that practitioners often make that lead to injuries and pain.
1. Mistakes that are frequently made
If you wonder why squats hurt, then here are the few mistakes that are most frequently made by performers.
2. Knees caving to the inside:
One of the most common mistakes that have been noticed in both novices and professionals has been one or both of the knees caving in right away or at the midway through a squat. If the person does not rectify it immediately, then the squats are likely to hurt your knees tremendously.
3. Leaning forward:
To do a proper squat, one must keep their chest up at all times. However, it has been noticed that rookies often bend too much forward causing the tension to shift from the quads muscles to the glutes, hamstrings and the lower back and performing squats then causes back pain.
4. Poor ankle mobility:
Another common mistake that people generally don’t rectify is poor ankle mobility. Losing mobility in the ankle means that your shins are not moving forward when you squat and if the shins are not moving forward, then the movement pattern is altered and that leads to unnecessary pressure and pain in the knees.
5. Incorrect breathing technique:
Having the correct breathing strategy will help in taking the advantage of the intra-abdominal pressure, however, having the incorrect breathing technique can sometimes potentially lead to injuries or strain in the torso muscles.
6. Putting excess weight on the toes:
Squats are generally used to build glutes and hamstrings and not quadriceps and if someone shifts their weight on their toes, this will lead the heel to come off the ground and that will lead to improper development of your capacity. Shifting your weight to your toes also leads to hurting the knees and lower back.
7. Performing shallow squats:
Depth in squats helps in building functional strength. If someone squats and they are not hitting the 90° angle, then they are probably cheating in the exercise. However, we do understand that performing deep squats can be strenuous for beginners but you will eventually be able to perform deep squats with mobility, repetition and time.
How to perform squats correctly?
Now that we have understood what are the possible mistakes that one can commit leading to injuries, let us now look at how you can rectify the mistakes and perform the squats correctly to prevent the probable injuries and reduce the risks.
- If knees caving in to the inside is one of the most common problems you face, then using a loop band during the exercise can be a great help for you.
Pro tip: Try to make conscious efforts to keep your knees out during exercising. You should perform without weights so that you build enough power in your outer hip muscles to keep the knees away from caving in.
- Keep your chest up and elbows pulled down when performing squats. Make sure your torso remains upright throughout the workout.
- To compensate for poor ankle mobility, perform ankle mobility exercises to help in boosting the performance of the ankle joints.
- Take a deep breath in and tighten your core muscles when you’re squatting down and as you come, try exhaling through pursed lips. This will help in keeping you safe and injury-free.
- Make efforts to keep your heels firmly planted on the ground.
- One method to practice that helps in correcting the posture is by practising squats while keeping your back against the wall. This will help in correcting your form and will reduce the risk of injuries in the long run. You can also perform squats in front of a wall to check whether your knees are caving in or not and then rectifying the mistakes accordingly.
- Before you start performing squats, make sure you do exercises that help in strengthening the different muscle groups of your body, especially the lower body muscles, so that it can bear the strain that squats cause on the joints and muscle groups of that area.
Now there you go, some common mistakes performed during squats and some solutions that will help in fixing the problems.
Squats provide numerous benefits and therefore are essential to be incorporated into your workout regime. If you have resonated with any one of the above problems, then try incorporating the solutions as well from now onwards. You will be quite amazed to find that tweaking some minor changes will reduce the risk of injuries from squats drastically.
So, next time someone says why do squats hurt? – you can guide them with the right technique!