You KNEED to stop caving in!
[knee valgus photo]
Have you ever seen this at the squat rack? This is knee valgus (or if you’re into scientific terms, valgus collapse and medial knee displacement) which happens your knees cave in when you descent into a squat position.
What is all the fuss about?
Basically, not correcting how your knee tracks is a train wreck waiting to happen. Along with an ugly squat, you risk getting knee pain, Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears as well as swelling and pain outside the knee (ITB Syndrome).
Okay but when does it happen?
You’ll most commonly see it happen when there’s eccentric action of the hip extensors; think squats, lunges, jumping, running. It happens during the eccentric action of the hip extensors because the hips are require to absorb stress caused by gravity acting on the body. You’d be surprised to see knee valgus occurring during hip-hinging movements like deadlifts.
Is knee valgus gender bias?
It is found that women are more susceptible to knee valgus because of their hip width and increased Q-angles. However, this is merely a relative comparison hence knee valgus also happens to men.
[hip structure of male and female]
Okay… but why do my knees collapse inwards?
Great question! Here are 3 reasons why your knees do the “Stanky Leg”:
1. Poor Hip Strength/Activation
A lack of hip strength or activation would mean your knees are more prone to incorrect tracking. Knees buckling are a sign the body is trying to create more torque to push heavier loads.
2. Poor Ankle Range of Motion (ROM)
Fong, Blackburn, Norcross, McGrath, and Padua (2011) states that poor ankle-dorsiflexion ROM leads to greater degrees of knee valgus due to the fact that the ankle plantar flexors play a vital role in absorption the shock of landing.
3. Lack of Coordination
Okay so you believe that your hips and ankles are okay. Well maybe what you need to work on is movement coordination and consciously getting your knees to track properly.
What can I do about it?
1. Mini Band Squats
A form of Reactive Neuromuscular Training, mini band squats are a great way to learn how to engage your glutes and external hip rotators. Place the mini band around your legs above the knees and squat like you normally would. The extra resistance from the mini band will force you to actively engage the glutes.
[mini band squats photo]
2. Foam Rolling to Increase Ankle Mobility
A form of self-myofascial release (SMR), foam rolling is found to improve ankle (Grieve, Clark, Pearson, Bullock, Boyer, & Jarrett, 2011). Place the calves on the foam roller, either together or on its own depending on your ability to withstand the tension on the calves. Proceed by rolling your calves on the foam roller, finding the most painful spot. Once you’ve found the most painful spot, hold it there or slowly move the calf from left to right.
[foam rolling photo]
To wrap things up…
The tool is only as great as the user of the tool. Here at PFC Studio, we specialise in mini band use as well as Self-Myofascial Release techniques such as the foam roller, lacrosse ball, and Rumble Roller. We at PFC Studio strive to equip trainers with up-to-date knowledge in methods and techniques of mini band and SMR techniques as well as helping you as individuals squat happily and pain-free!
Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th ed. Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2012. Fong, C.-M., Blackburn, J. T., Norcross, M. F., McGrath, M., & Padua, D. A. (2011). Ankle-Dorsiflexion range of motion and landing Biomechanics. Journal of Athletic Training, 46(1), 5–10. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-46.1.5
Grieve, R., Clark, J., Pearson, E., Bullock, S., Boyer, C., & Jarrett, A. (2010). The immediate effect of soleus trigger point pressure release on restricted ankle joint dorsiflexion: A pilot randomised controlled trial. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies., 15(1), 42–9.