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Squats are an essential part of life. Sitting down on a couch, getting out of a car, and rising from a chair all involve squatting.
In her New York Times article, The Power of a Squat, Gretchen Reynolds states, "squats are key to living and aging well." Moreover, research supports squatting in safe ways to improve knee osteoarthritis. (I wrote about this here.)
I offer an alternative solution.
Rather than avoiding painful squats altogether, I recommend making the squat easy enough to complete with good form and without having symptoms.
This means the squat should not cause pain or swelling during the exercise, nor should pain or swelling occur hours later or the following day.
Most people with hip or knee pain can squat without pain if the squat becomes easy enough.
Sitting down or standing up from a standard chair may create hip or knee discomfort. In this case, using the chair's arm rests to support part of one's bodyweight often eliminates the pain.
Another way to support part of one's bodyweight is by using a Gray Cook Band. (I have no financial interest in suggesting the Gray Cook Band.) By securing it at the top of a door, and then placing the loop of tubing around one's trunk, an Assisted Chair Squat may be performed:
If pain still occurs during the Assisted Chair Squats, the difficulty of the exercise can be decreased further by performing the Assisted Eccentric Chair Squat:
Given the Assisted Eccentric Chair Squats still create pain or discomfort, I recommend increasing the height of the chair or using a taller stool.
When I'm working with clients, I determine how much of their body weight they can squat without pain during or afterwards. I use a Variable Incline Plane to measure their Squat Load Tolerance:
The Variable Incline Plane offers a way for people to perform very gentle squats, by lying down on the machine at a very shallow slope:
Over time, the height of the Variable Incline Plane's slope may be increased to gradually use more bodyweight during the squats.
Strengthening the body in this way allows people to avoid injury and return to the squatting activities they enjoy-- such as hiking, gardening, and weight lifting-- without hip or knee pain.
My colleague, Doug Kelsey, PT, PhD, and I have developed Better Knees for Life, a program for people with tolerable knee pain. Better Knees for Life offers step-by-step instructions that can be performed at home with very little equipment.
Better Knees for Life helps you get stronger, feel better and maybe best of all, feel more in control of your life.
What people are saying about Better Knees for Life :
"...well thought out, easy to understand and implement."
"BKL (Better Knees for Life) is an outstanding program -- with graded exercise programs and guidelines for advancing, and outstanding support with the Zoom sessions."
"I've already recommended BKL to 2-3 friends because of the noticeable difference in reducing pain in my left knee."
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