Raise your hand if you’ve been doing a squat or lunge and been told “don’t let your knees go past the front of your toes”. Or “never bend forward because you may cause a disc bulge”? Or “don't squat to the floor because it's bad for your hips and knees”
There are many misconceptions that we hear in the clinic and around the gym that in some cases, cause more limitation or fear than necessary. In some cases, if we were to follow all of the 'rules' we would be walking around like robots!
Now, there are certainly situations that warrant specific movement restrictions and attention to form i.e. after surgery, while lifting heavy weights or when performing high intensity repetitive movements. But in everyday life, our bodies are amazing machines and are made to move! In fact, our joints stay healthy through movement and help prevent and manage conditions such as osteoarthritis.
When you stop to think about it, there are many movements we just don’t do in our daily life. Maybe because our daily demands don’t warrant it or our jobs have us working at a desk all day, for example.
A great example to think of this is how often do we ever bend our hips and knees past 90 degrees (i.e. deeper than chair height)? Or our ankles past neutral? For a lot of us, really not often, especially when we work standing at a till, sitting at a desk or driving in a car.
Here is a great tip from a well respected physiotherapist, Bahram Jam, to help keep you feeling young and your joints mobile while reducing the dread of bending down to pick something off the floor
Practice unloaded deep squatting everyday.
Try holding onto a kitchen counter, banister or rail and gently lower yourself until your bum touches your heels and your armpits touch your knees
Hold it for a few seconds while you get comfortable
Then repeat 5-10 times using your arms throughout to help with the movement, if needed
This is a simple yet great way to keep your back, hips, knees and ankles healthy and mobile by using their available range of motion!
Obviously this goes against what we may hear about not bending our hips past 90 degrees and knees past our toes. The movement itself is not damaging. In fact, it helps keep the mobility in our joints while making things like getting on and off the floor or squatting to pick things up much easier.
Of course this should not replace any medical advice but if you have any concerns or would like ideas to help stay mobile and keep your joints healthy and strong visit a local physiotherapist or kinesiologist!