Is squatting below parallel bad for your knees?

This is a debate that we hear often. And one that was unfortunately not winnable in chiropractic & physical therapy school. (Good luck debating this with your instructors.)

Is the deep squat bad for the knees?

NO. May it be bad for YOUR knees? It depends.

There are so many factors that attribute to whether or not the deep squat is right for you (here are a few):

  • Do you have the mobility prerequisites?
  • Do you have adequate core stability?
  • Do you have any joint pathologies?
  • Have you deep squatted throughout life?
  • What is your intention or goal?

All of these factors attribute to whether or not the deep squat is right for you. And if it’s good for your knees.

As you see in the above picture, the forces and tissues with the most load change throughout the depth of the squat.

There is increased shear below 90 degrees of knee flexion (above parallel) and increased compression above 90 degrees (below parallel). Neither are inherently worse than the other when the tissues being loaded are prepared for the load.

In the end, the only “bad” exercise or movement is the one your tissues are not prepared for.

Tissue capacity must be greater than the load. Simple as that.


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