Understanding Squatting: A Comprehensive Analysis of Stance Widths, Foot Placement Angles, and Experience Levels

Understanding Squatting: A Comprehensive Analysis of Stance Widths, Foot Placement Angles, and Experience Levels

How to squat? Effects of various stance widths, foot placement angles and level of experience on knee, hip and trunk motion and loading

Below you will find some key takeaways from the study that we think are important to know. 



Squatting is a fundamental exercise known for its relevance to daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, sitting, and standing up. It strengthens lower limb muscles and enhances knee stability. However, variations in squatting techniques, including stance width, foot placement angle, and experience level, can influence joint motion and loading. This study delves into the impact of narrow, hip, and wide stance widths, various foot placement angles, strength exercise experience, and different barbell loads on knee, hip, and trunk dynamics during squatting.


The study involved both novice (21 individuals) and experienced (21 individuals) squatters performing nine squat variations, combining three stance widths and three foot placement angles. Motion capture technology and force plates were used to record knee displacement, hip and knee joint range of motion (RoM), and joint moments at the hip, knee, and lower back.


The findings revealed that both stance width and foot placement angles significantly influenced moments at the hip and knee joints in both frontal and sagittal planes. Knee displacement varied with these factors and the squatter's experience level. Notably, increasing foot angle led to increased knee displacement, while wider stance widths resulted in decreased displacement. Novice squatters exhibited higher knee displacement, and additional weight reduced displacement. Extreme positions, like narrow stance with a 42° foot angle and wide stance with a 0° foot angle, displayed large knee and hip joint moments, suggesting potential injury risks.


Choosing an appropriate stance width and foot placement angle is crucial, aligning with the targeted joint moments. To prevent injuries, caution is advised in extreme positions where substantial knee and hip joint moments occur. Novice squatters should be mindful of their knee alignment, while experienced individuals can benefit from variations that optimize joint movements based on their training goals.

Key Takeaways

  1. Stance Width and Foot Placement: The study highlights the importance of selecting suitable stance widths and foot placement angles based on targeted joint moments during squats.

  2. Risk of Injury: Extreme positions, such as a narrow stance with a 42° foot angle and a wide stance with a 0° foot angle, may pose a higher risk of injury due to increased knee and hip joint moments.

  3. Experience Matters: Novice squatters tend to exhibit higher knee displacement, emphasizing the need for proper form and technique when starting a squatting routine.

  4. Load Considerations: Additional weight on the barbell affects lumbar spine moments but does not significantly impact lower back moments. Squatting with extra weight may enhance stability if performed correctly.

  5. Practical Guidelines: The study provides practical insights into optimizing squat techniques for both novice and experienced individuals, considering factors such as foot placement, stance width, and load.

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