Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Last night in my Body Pump class, a participant asked about an article regarding squats.  She said that the article said that squats were dangerous, and shouldn't be done, particularly for young athletes.  This is just as we were beginning the squat track. Oy.

So, I decided to look the article up today, to see what it actually said.  It talks about pars interarticularis stress fractures caused by squat presses.  Particularly, it speaks about young athletes, and how these can be exceedingly hard to heal. 

We have long known that any exercise can cause damage, so form is crucial, but the article states that even with perfect form, these can cause lifelong problems in young people.  But the paradigm in training, at least for my 12 year tenure, has been that weights with young people should be approached with extreme caution.  Body weight exercises are considered superior for training kids, and weights should be light, utilizing more reps and lower resistance. 

She did mention that the article said no one should do squats.  Well, no, that's not what it says.  It states the following:  "Rao, a professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, would not go so far as to say squats should not be done at all, but athletes, especially younger ones, need to be cautious, he said.  Doctors said doing a similar type of exercise without weight is much less likely to cause pars stress fractures."

So, what do I think of the squat press as an exercise?  I think it works, and this is why it continues to be done, even though there is some risk involved in any exercise.  Having a bar on your upper back does add to the force on the spine, and if you have spinal stenosis or disc issues, you should have the bar in front as support (like a third leg), and not on your back.  Same goes for holding the bar in front--it still increases the force on the spine, so for those with back issues, use your body only, and have a professional assess your form. 

Proper form for a squat:  feet at shoulder width or slightly wider, with weight in your heels, shoulders down and back, abs braced.  Slowly lower your body down, your bottom does shift back, the back stays straight, and your knees stay behind your toes.

Making modifications is a crucial part of making exercise a part of your life!  Make the modifications necessary to make the exercise work for you.

For the original article here is the link:

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