Squatting puts tremendous stress on the knees, and doing it habitually appears to contribute to arthritis later in life.
To determine the extent of that risk, Boston University medical researchers studied more than 1,800 men and women age 60 and older in China, where squatting is common.
Based upon interviews and X-ray images of the knees, they found that Beijing residents with a history of squatting at age 25 had an increased chance of developing a breakdown of the knee joint, a condition called tibiofemoral osteoarthritis. The more time they had spent squatting, the greater the prevalence of the condition, the researchers found.
The increased risk showed up regardless of body weight, an important point because being overweight intensifies wear and tear on joints.
Although squatting is less frequently practiced in the United States, lead author Dr. Yuqing Zhang said the study findings would apply to baseball catchers, weightlifters and gardeners.
The study appears in the April issue of the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.
Jane E. Allen