Squats will ruin your knees & back

This is what my doctor told me. I went in to get seen for knee pain. BTW, the knee pain was derived from running in formation at about a 12 minute mile pace not from squatting. He was prescribing rehab for me to do and made the statement that I should not do squats. He stated that even if I am fine now, my back and knees will be ruined by the time I was 60 or 70. My question is, has anyone seen anything but anecdotal evidence showing squats are bad for you? I know that it is the party line shared by most docs and PTs because I have heard it as long as I have been squatting but I wonder if studies have actually been done on people that squat. I have no intention to stop squatting but it just makes me wonder where the "smart people" are getting their info from.

If your form is bad then yes, it will wear you down in the long run. If your form is good I guess lifting is only beneficial for you even when you are 60 or 70. Perhaps there is some wear and tear on your body if you're going all out even when using perfect form. But if that is the case there are probably a million other things in everyday life that wears the body down more.

It would be interesting to hear what that doctor suggests as a safe alternative to squatting.

He suggested leg presses. I know there is less inherent risk to leg presses but they are not as good as squats by any stretch of the imagination. Besides, the leg press machine is used all the time at most gyms but the Squat rack is rarely used unless someone is doing curls. ;-)

Get a second opinion....

... from Dr. Fred Hatfield.

I've said it before, and i'll say it again, general care practioners don't know much (in general) about athletics. I know more then my doc about nutrition and excercise and she defers to me on those topics. I defer to her on medicine. That's her expertise.

Other then limiting the role your hamstrings and glutes play in the motion, the leg press has no great difference over the squat, besides restricting your natural body mechanics. Some even have curved backs.

Good luck finding real studies that show that proper squatting is bad for you. At 70, you'll have denser bones then the other old folk if you've been a good lifter anyway (read: you will be healthier).


"Squat rack is rarely used unless someone is doing curls. ;-)"

Those guys really annoy me...

Did he ask how much weight you squatted with?

What the weight was in relation to your 1-rep max?

How many reps you do?

How many sets you do?

Whether you went above, at or below parallel?

How many times per week you squatted?

What else you do in your workouts that also hit the knee area?

If the answer to any (or all) of these is no, then doctor or not, he should shut the F up or go learn how to squat himself so he can give an informed answer.

Vermonter has squatted the correct. I've actually argued with a few military doctors in my gym over squats being bad for you. Of course, when they show me their squat technique I laugh and say "well, no wonder you think they're bad for you... you can't squat worth a shit!"

Doesn't make me any friends but it keeps people squatting with good form. ;)


LOL @ scrapper. I'm making anyone who trash talks squats drop and give me 50.

The more logical argument (not that I agree with it) is that squatting causes an unessacary stress on your spine, but I rebut this saying not if you have the bar in the proper position. The same people advocate leg press (which I do, knowing the bad part) even though that forces a range of motion similarly to the smith machine


The docs are worried about the knees in this case. The problem is that they should be saying 'no squatting unless your form is really good' and they're saying 'no squatting'. Given the amount of time most people spend learning to workout, I see why they give that recommendation.

Doctors aren't interested in athletic performance, they're interested in giving the general population good advice (from a legal/medical perspective). In other words, what can I tell this guy to minimize any injury to himself.

My grandfather was 70-75 ish and he COULD squat to rock bottom and his form was good.  And would beat most guys in depth EASILY.  My gramdma who can still squat deep toa bout 3inch's off the floor IF THAT.  She can stay in a squat and cook food etc etc like that.  If you have ever gone to any asian country you will EASILY NOTICE THIS.  People on the streets sitting in a deep squat and doing this sort of thing.

They did not use heavy weights just body weight but for long periods of time.

BUT your knees WILL get knackered LATER IF YOU SQUAT HEAVY FOR 40YRS+.  I don't question that at all.  Your knees will just get knackered.  Same if you did 100 push ups everyday for 40yrs.  You will have knackered elbows also.

If you push anything hard and long enough (30yrs+ or so) you will knacker it.  Your joints are not invincible.  But ify ou did not squat or train hard you would not get the benefits that they'd bring to you...

Your Dr is a bit mad but looking to give 'general' info like ChemicalSage has pointed out.


I agree with you all. I went to a regular family practice guy. I knew he would say something about squats but I usually ask just to see if I can find an athletic doc that isn't willing to sacrifice certain exercises, i.e. squats and deads, without a viable reason.

The funny thing is he said that my knee was very stable and that I had good enough quad development to keep my knees healthy under normal circumstances. I didn't have the heart to tell him that my leg development was based on squats and deads and not leg presses.

HK, My wife is Korean so I have a lot of experience witnessing Asians squatting down for long periods of time. I figure it would be a different because of the stress level on the knee being exponential with the weight vs. unweighted.

"My wife is Korean so I have a lot of experience witnessing Asians squatting down for long periods of time."

Anyone else amused by this statement?

Funny. I was just on the phone with Dr. Spanksalot and he said the EXACT OPPOSITE THING!

"HK, My wife is Korean so I have a lot of experience witnessing Asians squatting down for long periods of time. I figure it would be a different because of the stress level on the knee being exponential with the weight vs. unweighted."

Yeah I see it all the time also.  But still you see spend a lot of time doing squats.  They are unweighted but they keep low and good form.


thats interesting koing, my wife squats like that when she is planting flowers etc for long periods of time. (she is thai).

Wife sqatting, is this a new exercise?

Well to me it isn't unsual to see Asians do that as it is very typical (from the toilet being in the ground and all).

Every oreintal person I have met can do it and they do it for ages also!


Aieee! My ish wife ish pilipino! Hoy ish she always pop squat when she shee me pop squat in de yahd pulling da eh weeds ah!

Doctors make money when there is something wrong with you. Remember that and run the other way. lol. leg press is misunderstood as an exercise that won't mess a human up because it is so easy. In support of what Vermonter posted- there are many family physicians are full of crap when it comes to "our" world. family physicians are the experts at everything it seems though. If we need to know how dangerous any type of drug or supplement is, the government asks a family doctor. If there is a report on how dangerous certain exercises are, they ask a family doctor. When the government needs to bullcrap they ask the pope. SO what it boils down to is everyone barks up and with the wrong tree. The tree gets kickbacks, we as patients don't.