If you are to do only one exercise ever it should be the squat. We do it every day in some sort of manner (standing up or sitting down in a chair) and it’s such an amazing compound exercise, hitting multiple muscle groups with endless variations.
Unfortunately, some claims have led to public belief that squats damage the knee joints. However, the overwhelming body of research supports the contrary- squats in fact facilitate healthy, strong knees. If a squat (and its variations) are done appropriately the risk of injury is quite low. The largest concern to a safe vs unsafe squat is the rotary forces that could be present on the knee. This normally presents itself as a knee in movement i.e. your knees collapse towards each other as you drop into the squat. This creates a rotary force on the knee joint which can stress various structures past their “comfort level”. There are a lot of factors (hip mobility, ankle mobility, quad strength, glute strength, mental state, etc.) that can contribute to this type of movement and the overall quality of the squat that if not addressed could potentially lead to injury.
As a simple trick to help address ankle mobility, if you were to stand on some 5 or 10 kg weight plates, the elevation of your heel will allow you to get deeper into the squat and enjoy more of the benefits a full range of motion. For other tips and tricks to get you squatting your best squat, don’t hesitate to come ask one of our team members!