Firm on Form: KNEES

With upcoming lists of good lower body exercise, lets talk about injury prevention, good form and not wearing out your joint.  I often observe people in exercise class that are performing squats/lunges/jumps/etc/etc and are using “grimace-face” making form.  The Featured Image exhibits good form (for reference). 

The “No-No” short list:

  1. Letting the knee fall inside of big toe
  2. Knee cap going beyond your toes
  3. Landing stiff (not bending the knee as you land)

Point One: If your knee caps start to “collapse” towards the inside of your big toe, that is NOT good for your knee (and hip). The knee caps should be pointing straight ahead and essentially, along the line of your 2nd toe.  If you consistently squat with your knees falling (caving) in, this can lead to general knee pain, increase strain on your ACL, or even contribute to ITB syndrome.  

Note in this photo how the knee caps are falling “in.”  If a line went from the middle of the knee cap and straight down, it would fall to the inside of the foot – not good.

Point two: the knee should also not go beyond your toes (there is big debate about this in the fitness world, because, to do a full squat or pistol squat this has to happen).  If you do not have a goal to win a cross fit, weightlifting or physique competition, do NOT let your knee go beyond your toes.  If the knee cap travels beyond your toes, it can increase compression of your knee cap against your thigh bone, and can contribute to pain in the front of your knee.  A typical squat alone can cause up to FIVE x your body weight through your knee joints!!  Imagine if you are using bad form, that increase in force could be even more!  My usual suggestion is to be mindful to keep your weight shifted into your heels.  Can you lift your toes while in squat or lunge position?  Yes? You are doing it right.  

GOOD form example: note that the knee is behind the toe of the forward leg

Point three: lets talk landing.  When you jump, how do you land?  If you land stiff and your feet make a sound like you are popping balloons, you are landing incorrect.  The key is to ABSORB the landing, land soft, land on the balls of your feet.  Any of those thoughts will help you land correctly.  Just even thinking this will mentally help you bend the knees with the landing to absorb the impact of the force of the land. This places so much less stress through pretty much your entire low body from your back all the way down to your feet.  I will limit the orthopedic implications of landing stiff, but keep in mind that landing can cause up to NINE x your body weight in added compressive force through your joints.  This doesn’t even include a discussion on the shear forces that can occur within the knees and this has implications to ligament health. 

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