Articles like this really annoy me. People write in and ask questions and some supposed expert gives terrible advice.
My friend Mark Rippetoe used to say, “Doctors shouldn’t talk about things that they know nothing about.” Sound advice for all of us.
Not only is the advice in the article wrong, the fact that it comes from a doctor automatically fools people into thinking it must be sound medical advice. It is not.
Let’s imagine we replaced squatting with skiing in the example in the article.
Patient: Doc, every time I ski I hear funny noises in my knees.
Doctor: Those noises are usually nothing. However skiing can be dangerous, therefore if you ski you should only ski half way down the mountain because the further down you go the more speed you build up and the more likely you are to get hurt.
Patient: Thanks, doc. I will only ski half way down the mountain from now on.
The only real difference between skiing and squatting is that skiing is an entirely avoidable activity, but you one cannot go thru an entire day without bending the knees past 90 degrees. Every time you go to the bathroom or get in and out of a car or a chair, you are squatting. So avoidance is not an option. The best option is to learn how to move in a manner that is orthopedically sound. Whether it is skiing or squatting there is probably someone out there that can help you do it more efficiently and safely. That person is probably not an MD and probably does not earn their livelihood replacing the knees of injured athletes.
Telling people not to squat below parallel is the low fat diet advice of exercise. If a doctor tells you that you shouldn’t squat below parallel, they have basically admitted to not ever having read the research (because there has only ever been one study that claimed quarter squats were better and it was debunked) and they have never actually squatted because people that squat know empirically that full range of motion squats work better than half squats.
Getting squatting tips from a knee surgeon is like getting diet advice from a soda company.