When it comes to fitness, it can be hard to know what to believe. There are so many myths floating around and everyone seems to have a differing opinion on everything from exercise form to nutrition. We debunk some of the most commonly believed fitness myths with support from science and fact.
Squatting below parallel will damage your knees
This is something a lot of people believe and use it as an excuse not to squat properly. The fact of the matter is that if squatting too low does hurt your knees, you should not be squatting at all. Instead, you should seek medical advice and do mobility and physiotherapy exercises in order to address the issue at its root and improve your squat technique. You should start with something easy like a bodyweight squat or one of the many squat variations out there before moving onto a squat using a barbell.
Squatting below parallel is the proper way to perform a squat and will get the best results. According to research by the Centre for Sport Performance at California State University, if you are a healthy individual with good mobility and perform the squat with good form, there is no evidence to suggest squatting below parallel is detrimental to knee health. It is actually harder to do a half-rep as it puts more strain on your muscles and you don’t have the advantage of being able to bounce out of the bottom of the move.
You should stretch before exercise
It’s easy to see how this myth has become common as it sounds right, but according to top medical professionals it’s never a good idea to stretch cold muscles and you could hurt yourself if you do so. The correct advice is that you should always warm up before exercise in order to increase blood flow, but this doesn’t mean doing static stretches. Instead, you should do dynamic stretches such as leg swings and arm rotations which will warm up your muscles and joints safely without the risk of pulling or tearing tissue.
You’re a failure if you walk during a run
This is sadly something a lot of people believe and they would rather shuffle slowly in misery than walk for a few seconds to recoup. You can easily improve your running times by allowing yourself to walk for a few steps when you need to rather than running slowly overall. According to research, running continuously puts a lot of strain not only on the muscles but also on the central nervous system, and running non-stop, especially during something like a marathon, isn’t good for you unless you are a trained athlete with expert advice from a professional coach. You will find that you achieve better results and feel far better after you finish if you allow yourself a few walk breaks - they don’t need to be more than a few seconds.
You should eat five portions of fruit a day
The government guidelines that we should be eating ‘five-a-day’ has changed many times over the years, but the basic logic stays the same: we all need to eat more greens. However, fruits and vegetables should not be treated the same as fruits contain high amounts of sugar while vegetables contain high amounts of fibre. If your ‘five-a-day’ is all coming from fruit, you will be missing out on vital nutrients that would be found in the likes of green, leafy vegetables and will be unwittingly eating copious amounts of sugar. Make sure you’re eating more vegetables rather than lots of fruit.