The problem with squatting depth is that there are a number of things happening to the joint and they can vary depending on how the squat is performed. As long as the knees and hips rise as one and the weight is not shifted forward (or sideways) onto the toes then you have a decent squat that will keep the knee within acceptable force parameters.
There are few things to consider with squatting depth: shear forces on the ligaments and tendons, compressive forces on the knee cartilages, relative loading, and excessive depth. Excessive depth is easy; go too deep and your hamstrings and calves meet and begin to lever the knee apart, not good! Relative loading is also reasonably simple; you can squat more weight through a shorter ROM and will put greater stressors on the knee than is typically measured in studies.
Meniscus starts to get damaged at 25MPa. Squatting with bodyweight is 4-5MPa, walking can get as high as 14MPa (wonder what running does?!)
QuoteQuoteSo if walking and running are higher knee compressive forces than those in the parallel and ass to grass squat with bodyweight then squatting with good form and progressive overload techniques shouldn’t be harmful to the meniscus (within reason). Of course extra weight is going to impact upon these forces greatly. Where the forces get big is when you add weight, and it is much easier to add big weights to shallower depths of squatting. You also tend to have slower “hypertrophy” of the tendons, ligaments and cartilage than in muscles which further exacerbates the issue of adding big weights.Quote
Next post will be on the ligament forces.
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