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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 02-26-2008, 02:04 PM   #1
David Carlton
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Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

I've been having fun evangelizing CrossFit to all my friends, including my gym rat sister. She's had squat instruction there before, and they told her the most important aspect of squats is to avoid having your knee travel forward of your toes, lest you risk knee damage. Other friends I've been teaching air squats have heard the same information from various fitness instructors. However, as I've been searching on here and looking at pictures of olympic lifters, having knees go in front of the toes seems to almost always happen with a full depth squat. Who's correct here?
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:08 PM   #2
Jay Cohen
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

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Originally Posted by David Carlton View Post
Who's correct here?
We are.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:11 PM   #3
David Carlton
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

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We are.
Can you elaborate as to why?
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:15 PM   #4
Tom Fetter
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

Short answer: yup.

Longer answer?

I slightly buggered a knee a couple of weeks back - no lasting damage or pain, but swelling. After reading through the injury boards here and re-reading the Squat sections of SS, I think my knees shot out in front of my toes on the way back up out of the hole with #250 on my back. I felt the weight shift forwards to the ball of my foot ...

In SS, Rip describes standing a 4 X 4 block of wood that's taller than your knees just in front of your toes, in line with your foot. It forces you to learn not to shoot your knees forwards. Put it out far enough to the side, and the 4 X 4 also helps you learn to spread your knees wide enough. Also says, for a while, to think of weight on your heels ... though eventually it should sit mid-foot.

After a bit of down-time and a lot of form paranoia, my knee's all good now.

Last edited by Tom Fetter : 02-26-2008 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:36 PM   #5
James Besenyei
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

I think it depends on exactly how far your knees are shooting out in front of your toes. Lower leg bone structure/size, flexibility, etc. will come into play. Different people will have different results. If you're not butt winking, your back is rigid, the weight is staying in the correct plane, and you're pushing through your heels then knees being slightly forward doesn't seem like it would be a problem. Just my 2 cents FWIW.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:41 PM   #6
Jake Oleander
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

the farther your knees extend passed your toes the more strain on your knees. i find that if i can get my knees directly above my ankles theres almost no pressure on the knees.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:42 PM   #7
Jay Cohen
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

Google the question, but here is just one of many articles on knees past toes, plus of course, going past parallel.

Link is W/F/S.

http://www.exrx.net/ExInfo/Squats.html
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:47 PM   #8
Philip Stablein
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

Letting your knees shoot forward, as described before is bad, because then you've slackened your hamstrings, your weight has shifted off the posterior chain. The anterior parts take up the force (quadriceps and knee tendons). So.. can knee damage happen? Sure. But knee damage can also happen when going down the stairs incorrectly. Starting Strength is one of the best resources you could ask for, for myth debunking, solid evidence and scientifically based explanations of squats. But the ExRx article should work for you. Lotta bad exercise myths out there.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:52 PM   #9
Aaron Shaffer
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

Both of you are sort of right. Rippetoe says knees in front of toes is OK but only to a certain extent. (SS should be your reference here, not us IMHO)

So they can be forward minimally, but it is very important that the knees do not slide more forward than they already are when you reach the bottom of the squat because it means the hams/glutes haven't been sufficiently activated - meaning there is an imbalance in the anterior/posterior forces on the knee and a greater potential for injury.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:55 PM   #10
Robert Callahan
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Re: Is squatting with your knees in front of your toes bad for your knees?

bottom line having your knees move past your toes is bad form for squating because it means that you are shifting your weight onto your toes and off your heels. What is going to cause damage is the shifting the weight to your toes. One of the recomended fixes for this problem rx-ed by many trainers is to stand infront of a wall with your toes a few inches away and do squats and slowly move closer and closer until your toes are against the wall and you can squat.
-Robert
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