ExerciseImportant ConceptsKneeSit Like A Man

Do Not Do Squats!


I’m going to go ahead and post this blog. It’s going to make a lot of people mad. I posted it on my group’s blog (www.texasorthopedics.com) and we got more responses to it than any we’ve previously posted. And they were all negative! The exercise industry is highly invested in squatting. You just have to look at a health magazine to see that about every 10 pages has an ad or a column or a device incorporating the use of some variety of squat.


My physician assistant and I keep a running tally on the number of patients I see every day in my clinic who have knee disease related to the performance of squats. I put a little Post-It note on our work station and we make hatch marks when we see one. Every day there are at least 4, sometimes 5 and occasionally 6. I see patients 3 days a week. Subtract a few days here and there for vacation. Multiply by 24 years and it comes out to something around 15,000 patients. And that’s 15,000 patients who probably wouldn’t have knee disease or would have less of it if they hadn’t been doing squats. So despite the hate mail I continue to stand by my recommendation that you…


DO NOT DO SQUATS!  Let me emphasize the point.  DO NOT DO SQUATS! 


And learn to recognize deceptive forms of the squat; the deep knee bend, the lunge and its particularly egregious variations, the weighted lunge and especially the forward-moving-weighted-lunge.  I don’t know what it is called but I want to put a red circle with a cross hatch on those. 


A lot of people are going to hate me, including many trainers, coaches and promoters of video training programs. I’ve got to admit that squats are a good way and maybe the best, most efficient and cheapest way to build gluts and quads.  They utilize some of the biggest muscle groups in the body and so you can work up a good sweat and “feel the burn.” So doing them accomplishes a goal and maybe for football players, it’s the best way.  But it’s dangerous for their knees, their cartilages and particularly their knee caps as well.  There are some individuals who are biomechanically sound to do squats but they are rare and there’s really no way to identify those people and predict how long they can tolerate it.  So there are some people who tolerate smoking cigarettes just fine. But enough of us can’t and so in general we say, “Don’t smoke.” And in general I like to say, “Don’t do squats!”


More on this to come. I’ll get ready for the onslaught of negative comments. Bring it.

  1. Mair

    Where can I find your information on why NOT to do squats ?
    Or the reason why not to really.
    Had hip replacement and was told to do squats.
    4 months post went into a pool and restarted squats after maybe a month of not doing any because of COVID and post fatigue.did a few other exercises too.
    Have hip pain and some inner knee pain not sure as 2 days later if from that or bumpy road.
    Interested in why not.

    1. Barbara

      There are other exercises to do, which will be less likely to harm you. There are people (patients) who do one squat and ruin their knees. There are others who do them for many months before the damage presents itself. I wouldn’t say not to do them, if I thought they were helping people. I wouldn’t say not to do them, if I never saw a patient with damage to their knees from doing them. I don’t know why your therapists told you to do squats after total hip replacement. Maybe they said partial squats or quarter squats. Not for me to say, except that PTs are also invested in women doing squats, just like the exercise industry is. Find another way to exercise: walk, straight leg raises, swim.

    1. Barbara

      No squats for anyone. My recommendation not to do squats would be the equivalent to the recommendation to avoid sugar in the medical side of our practice. Do people eat sugar? Will they eat sugar? Just a little bit of chocolate? The answer is “yes, yes, and more yes. Is it bad for us? Yes. Does it make us happy? Yes! Well those same answers could be applied to squats. People love squats and the exercise industry is invested in squats, particularly for women. I have a number of articles related to this. Just put in “squats” in the search bar. There are other ways of exercising your legs.

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