Leg Training with Osteoarthritis: Box Squats

Squatting with Bad Hips or Knees

In our ongoing pursuit of training through osteoarthritis pain and a hip injury, I've discovered some new incites on leg training.  In this particular video we're going through squatting when you have a hip injury or osteoarthritic knees and hips.

**Disclaimer: As usual if it hurts don't do it, as a general rule of thumb.**

The Box Squat

By utilizing box squats I seem to be able to push the margins a bit more with my leg training and keep safe from pain or further injury.

As long as the load is appropriate and there's no lower back issues, box squats seem to be a viable alternative to regular back squats to keep you working on your leg musculature, while avoiding severe ranges of motion in the hips and knees that could get you into trouble.


Recommendations for Training the Box Squat:

  1.  Start with an overly high box and work your way lower over time, to ensure that you're able to perform the movement without pain.  Even just warming up with the barbell is a great way to help ensure that it's going to be a good day and not end up in catastrophe.
  2. Use lighter loads that progress up in very small increments that you can handle. Remember if there's pain, there's probably going to be a lot more where that comes from later.
  3. Once you've gotten a load that feels descent on your joints, blast out reps in a smooth fashion, slow descent, a bit of acceleration on concentric and beat up on those reps.
  4. Focus more on the reps and burning up the muscles versus beating up on the weight.  Use some supersets or giant sets to get the muscles to fatigue with safe exercises for the joints (ie. stiff legged deadlifts and hamstring curls, box squats and reverse sled drags, etc).
  5. Lastly, ensure your bracing from the core is solid.  Think of your brace as your protective belt to keep you from becoming unstable, which if you slip up may cause you pain if you slip out of your natural squatting groove.

Broken but Unphased

The one big take away for anyone with an injury or joint ailment is that you're always trying to find ways to exercise that are pain free.  That also means that you don't want to have pain later on after a workout has concluded, which is sometimes difficult.  This may require trial and error and checking on how you feel during the workout and afterwards as well.

Just keep in mind you may not be able to excel at lifting heavier loads that you once could, training is still important to keep your body functioning optimally, even if it's not at 100% of your previous bests. You're still doing important work on your body and keeping it at its best.  And if something doesn't quite work, then log it, and move onto the next.

Until next time keep crushing those lifts and staying strong!


Jess Howland

Jesse "Captain Smash" Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold's Gym. He's a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.