Thoughts on squats and bad knees

There seems to be a lot of health advice out there from arm chair doctors. I've heard some opinions on doing squats,or for that matter,,eliminating them from one's curiculum in one has osteo-arthritis of the kneee. Some say you must do squats in order to buuild up the muscle around the knee to put it under less strain during day to day use,,,,while others think,,you do way too much damage just doing the squats and therefore they must be eliminated for your exercise regime.

Any thoughts??

As long as you do it with the right form and don't go to deep it should be fine. Loading the joint is healthy for the cartilage vs. destructive.

Ive never bought into the squats being bad for knees hype. They may not be good if you have a knee injury but i dont think they cause injuries if done with nice form and not crazy amounts of weights.

I tend to think i'll get better info here from people in the industry. Many doctors stop learning after med school and they know no more than you,,but mostly,if you're intereted in the subject, you will know more than the average M.D.

Any thoughts from any medical specialists in this field??

By the way,nowaydo,,that url doesn't cover the topic which is specific to osteo-arthritis of the knee and squatting.

JKD may be right about family practitioners that don't deal with athletes, but orthopedists who specialize in sports medicine know a hell of a lot more than most of us. However, even sports medicine doctors disagree on things, so you are still left with having to make your own choice.

Doctors know that most people won't use proper form and won't build up their knees and lower backs before squatting heavy, won't warm up properly, etc. So it's smarter just to tell people not to do it.

I'm not a physical therapist but I played one on TV and in Grad School.
My opinion

1) Ortho's are very good at cutting and sewing but they are not the best at Rehab or diagnosis (I've proved them dead wrong and I was just an intern)

2)Physical Therapist are better sources of info because the realy see what works.

3) Physical therapist use squating type movements on all types of patients (the weight and the depth are the only things that are different).

4)Squats are never a contridicted exercise because they are a large part of daily life. Either Squat or learn how to take a crap stading up.

Allure of Expertise fallacy

MTG,,I guess i should have written it better,,basically what,Lofland clarified, i meant family doctors. They are not a wealth of information on specifics. They generally know a lot of common maladys in general medicine. I want the opinion of people like rehab, physiotherapists,,or people that have dealt with physiotherapists for a similar condition. This has seriously put a dent in my martial arts career, or for that matter,,any physical activity.

JKDC, i'm not an MD or therapist but here are my thoughts. If you are talking about body weight squats (no additional weight), then you should be able to squat. Indeed, you will need to be able to squat in order to be able to live independently. This is how we get up off the couch or floor. If you are talking about weighted squats, then, as MTG advised, you should look for clearance from your doc or physiotherapist. That said, as long as it does not cause pain, i don't see a problem with starting out with extremely light weights and working your way up from there. Slowly.

As far as form and depth of squat is concerned, proper form is absolutely essential, as is going as deep as you can with proper form. As mentioned, though, don't start with any weights until you get clearance from your doc, and even then start with extremely light weights.

Lastly, stay clear of the "Hindu squats". These may place additional (and unwanted) shearing forces on your knees due to the lack of stability in the bottom position. Keep your feet flat, your weight back on your heels or mid-foot (never on your toes or the balls of you feet), and your chest up and inflated.

Hope this helps.


I'm going to call Bullsh-t on running being bad for your knees, I want someone to find a study on running being bad for the knees (actual medical study). This is an old wives tale. Cartilage it self is fairly aneural, meaning it's not the cause of pain in the knee. Knee pain comes mainly from soft tissue structures.

As I stated before I have experience in the field of physical therapy and I never saw one patient with a knee replacement that was an active runner.

Running is a weight bearing exercise exercise which are essential for cartalage health. Cartalage is nurished through a method know as the squeeze film method vs. difusion like other cells in the body. (think of a sponge).

Perhaps it has something to do with the running technique of the particular person. If one lands on the heel when running (as when walking), then additional stress may be transferred to the knee (among other joints). If one lands on the balls of the feet, then the ankle may provide some shock absorbance that would result in less stress to the knee.

Not a doc, just my thoughts.


If by running you mean specifically LSD (long slow distance) running, then i agree. i think sprints can be effective, however. That said, are they necessary? Probably not unless your particular sport or endeavor includes running / sprinting.


Unnatural running surfaces are to blame IMO. The human body is not designed to break apart at the slightest hint of physical activity. However, it's not designed to log miles on blacktop either.

thedisapointment-Of the three links only one had anything to do with running and arthritis and that didn't even define what kind of damage had occured. It also said "Recreational running, however running 2-3 times per week at an 8-minute mile pace does not increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis" "Overall, this study demonstrates that in normal knee and hip joints, regular recreational running does not increase development of osteoarthritis"

Thanks for giving me ammo!

If you fear getting hurt the logical thing to do would be to stop training martial arts. Running- injuries BJJ-3, I've been running on and off all my life been doing BJJ less than a year.

If you do worry about getting hurt every few months, I think eliminating MMA might be a little more effective than not running.

Still would love to see a study that says running is definitivly bad for your knees

Being a former "Rehab Guy" I've tried to read as many studies on the subject (especial on Patelofemoral Syndrome) and I've come to the conclusion that other structures are to blame for pain in the knee. There was a study where they did arthroscopic surgery on a guy with out anethesia and the mapped the most sensitive structures in the knee and cartalage was one of the least senstive. It was the fat pads that were the most senstive to pain followed by other soft tissue structures.

Everyone has their opinions and this one is mine, If you don't want to run I would never tell you to run and conversely if you like to run. I just started running again and have already dropped three pounds, But I hate any indoor cardio because it's boring.

Thanks for the debate it always helps us think.

Hindu Squats actually make my knees feel BETTER!

Was this done in Germany between 1938-45?

"There was a study where they did arthroscopic surgery on a guy with out anethesia "