“The squat magically cures knee pain if you squat correctly,” Kelly Starrett told participants at a one day seminar at CrossFit Santa Cruz on March 14, 2009. Starrett is the owner of San Francisco CrossFit and a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
Improper squat mechanics under load will lead to problems over time. Muted hips and knees bent forward are common faults. Starrett said one patient at his clinic was an elite, world champion athlete who had flown in for a consultation. The problem was the athlete simply didn’t know how to squat. Starrett blamed the athlete’s coach and PE teachers for failing to provide proper instruction. “No one ever taught him to squat right,” Starrett said.
The body weight squat to a high box can be a good way to start. Kelly tells his clients to keep their spines straight, stick their butts back, break their knees at the same time as they reach back, and put their hands up for balance. Athletes find they can squat with no pain because they are unloading their quad tendons. It takes them off tension and they don’t get a down/up stretch cycle. The eccentric/concentric chain is broken and the athlete is able to rise properly from the squat. The shin is pretty vertical and the femur is rotating around a pretty vertical tibia.
When athletes are put in the best position, with maximum congruency of the joints, hotspots are unloaded. Keeping the shins vertical maximally unloads the patella tendon.