What is the fad behind Spanish Squats? Why do you need to be doing them?
For starters, do you have pain in your patellar tendon when you run, jump or play basketball? You may be dealing with patellar tendinopathy, also known as Jumper’s Knee. One of the biggest misconceptions athletes have about Jumper’s Knee is that they think it’s tendinitis. In reality it’s not tendinitis because Jumper’s Knee is not an inflammation issue, but more of a degeneration and tendon capacity issue. Therefore, if you have Jumper’s Knee, you need to keep reading to learn more about Spanish Squats!
Check out this VIDEO that explains the difference between the Jumper’s Knee and patellar tendinitis.
Also, see our previous Blog on what Jumper’s Knee is and determine if you truly have it or not.
Once you have that figured out, let's discuss how to manage it!
Resting is NOT the Solution
Before we go into an exercise you need to be doing for Jumper’s Knee, it’s important to understand that rest is not the solution. Studies have actually shown that resting makes the issue worse because you are getting weaker. Furthermore, you may have noticed that if you rest, the symptoms go away; however, when you get back to basketball, your pain comes back. That is exactly why we have to get to the root of the issue, which is building the capacity of the patellar tendon back up. The one exercise you need to be doing is the spanish squat!
Why the Spanish Squat?
Before we explain how to do it, we will tell you why you need to be doing it.
First, it’s an isometric exercise. Isometric exercises help decrease pain when you are dealing with tendinopathy issues, and that is exactly what jumper’s knee: patellar tendinopathy. The research is still unsure on the exact reasoning behind it, but it has to do with the motor cortex representation in your brain. Studies have also shown that isometrics, specifically the Spanish squat, are great for athletes to perform during season and before practice. The initial goal for rehab is to decrease pain. As a result, the spanish squat, when done correctly and loaded properly, decreases pain.
The second reason why we like the spanish squat is that it helps build quadriceps strength. One of the issues athletes have when dealing with jumper’s knee is that the quadriceps are not as strong as they need to be. Basketball athletes, specifically. do not strengthen as much as they should, leading to increased reliance on their tendons when jumping and cutting.
The spanish squat kills two birds with one stone, it will decrease your pain and strengthen your muscles!
However, this exercise gets done incorrectly, which leads to people not having great success with it. Here is a quick checklist of what you need to look out for.
Spanish Squat Checklist:
1. Upright Trunk
You want your trunk to be upright, or as straight as possible. In other words, we do not want your trunk to be leaning forward because it will decrease the demand of the quadriceps muscle. In fact, the more you lean forward the more hip involvement you will have. That is not necessarily a bad thing when performing a squat, but that is not the purpose of this exercise.
2. Vertical Shin (Knees NOT over toes)
We know there is a huge frency about knees needing to go over toes; however for this exercise, it is imperative that your knee does NOT go past your toes. We want the knee to be in the middle part of your foot or try to be perpendicular to the ground. This will create a lever arm to bias your quadriceps muscle group more than your hip muscles.
3. Parallel Depth
Another mistake we see athletes do is that they try to get as low as possible. For this exercise, we recommend your depth to about 90 degrees, or parallel to the ground, for proper muscle activation and tendon stress.
Need More Help?
The Jumper’s Knee P/Rehab Program is a physical therapist developed, step-by-step program to help you get back to playing basketball and jumping. It will teach you how to regain and improve your mobility, and how to build a strong foundation for your knees and tendons. We dive into proper landing mechanics and progressing back to jumping. Ultimately, our program is designed to get you ready for anything the sport of basketball throws at you!
- 2 Progressive 4-Week Phases Targeting Unique Goals
- 100+ Video Instructed Exercises
- Detailed Step-By-Step Exercise Videos
- Objective Assessments to track your progress
- Lifetime Access to the Program & Exercises
Everhart et al. Treatment Options for Patellar Tendinopathy: A systematic Review Patellar Tendinopathy Clinical Review APTA 2019.
Rio et al Isometric exercise induces analgesia and reduces inhibition in patellar tendinopathy
Malliaras et al. Achilles and Patellar Tendinopathy Loading Programmes
Dr. Gabriel Ignacio PT, DPT, OCS, TPI
Dr. Marco Lopez PT, DPT, CSCS
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