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Old 05-12-2009, 12:18 PM   #1
Jeannette Potter
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leg/knee turning on squats?

Still new to crossfit after a month+ and wondered if anyone has experienced this: when I do heavy squats, my left leg tries to turn/drop the knee inward about 1/4 of the way into each lift. It doesn't hurt, and I can usually keep it from turning if I realize I'm doing it and make a conscious effort not to. Keeping it straight makes the lift harder, so I assume my body is trying to cheat on the lift. Doesn't hurt either way, but certainly doens't seem safe or good form. Anybody have this happen or know what causes it?
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:21 PM   #2
Tirzah Harper
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Re: leg/knee turning on squats?

Yep, I have to watch that too. It's pretty common, I think.
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Old 05-12-2009, 02:00 PM   #3
Steven Low
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Re: leg/knee turning on squats?

This can cause some knee problems if you don't fix it... stuff like IT band syndrome or patellofemoral syndrome.

Focus on spreading the floor with your feet/legs. That should help keep tension, and keep the knees from collapsing in. May also want to do some vastus medialis/VMO activation work.
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Old 05-12-2009, 04:19 PM   #4
Brian Lawyer
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Re: leg/knee turning on squats?

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Originally Posted by Jeannette Potter View Post
Still new to crossfit after a month+ and wondered if anyone has experienced this: when I do heavy squats, my left leg tries to turn/drop the knee inward about 1/4 of the way into each lift. It doesn't hurt, and I can usually keep it from turning if I realize I'm doing it and make a conscious effort not to. Keeping it straight makes the lift harder, so I assume my body is trying to cheat on the lift. Doesn't hurt either way, but certainly doens't seem safe or good form. Anybody have this happen or know what causes it?
I think I remember reading in Starting Strength that your adductors are responsible for pushing your knees out during squats. Knee buckling in would be sign of weak adductors. Rip said there is no specific way to strengthen your adductors other than keep squatting. I would suggest to keep squatting like you are and make that conscience effort to drive your knees out wide. In time your adductor strength will catch up to the rest of your muscles.
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:08 PM   #5
Greg Pieris
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Re: leg/knee turning on squats?

Generally speaking, the best way to address knees caving in is frequent yelling.

The knees will buckle in if your adductors are weak, or your hamstrings aren't doing their job. In the latter case, what typically happens is out of the hole, the knees slide forward or the path of the bar shifts forward slightly. In either case, it could simply be a form problem, or the hamstrings are weak (likely through not strengthening them by squatting correctly). Either way, the hamstrings don't contribute their share forcing the quads to dominate. The end result is pushing through the floor like a leg press, and the knee caving could be an artifact of a difference in strength between the vastus lateralis and vastus medius, ie you want to cheat by favouring the VM. But if you are actually squatting with the posterior chain doing its share, it shouldn't be a problem.

The cure to poor form is good form: sit back, keep chest up, keep the knees out, use stretch reflex out of the hole and raise your butt, rather than try to push with your feet.

When your body doesn't want to do this, a coach yelling at you usually fixes it.
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:11 PM   #6
Jeannette Potter
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Re: leg/knee turning on squats?

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Originally Posted by Greg Pieris View Post
When your body doesn't want to do this, a coach yelling at you usually fixes it.
That's how it works in TKD, too ;-)

Thanks for all the advice from everyone! I will be paying attention to all of it. My right leg is supposedly a hair longer than my left, maybe that contributes, too? I say "supposedly" because it's really too small to measure, but as I've gotten into my 30's, it's started to show it's effects. Or so the physical therapy people explained it to me. To keep my back happy during a long work day on my feet, I keep an extra insole in the left shoe, but I don't do that in my workout shoes...I might should stick one in there while I'm working on form.
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Old 05-12-2009, 07:20 PM   #7
Steven Low
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Re: leg/knee turning on squats?

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Originally Posted by Greg Pieris View Post
Generally speaking, the best way to address knees caving in is frequent yelling.

The knees will buckle in if your adductors are weak, or your hamstrings aren't doing their job. In the latter case, what typically happens is out of the hole, the knees slide forward or the path of the bar shifts forward slightly. In either case, it could simply be a form problem, or the hamstrings are weak (likely through not strengthening them by squatting correctly). Either way, the hamstrings don't contribute their share forcing the quads to dominate. The end result is pushing through the floor like a leg press, and the knee caving could be an artifact of a difference in strength between the vastus lateralis and vastus medius (wrong name ), ie you want to cheat by favouring the VM. But if you are actually squatting with the posterior chain doing its share, it shouldn't be a problem.

The cure to poor form is good form: sit back, keep chest up, keep the knees out, use stretch reflex out of the hole and raise your butt, rather than try to push with your feet.

When your body doesn't want to do this, a coach yelling at you usually fixes it.
Actually, caving in favors cheating with the vastus lateralis and tensor fasciae latae/IT band over the vastus medialis.

The muscle that's "on top" becomes the primary load bearer (as you're giving it the most leverage), and with the knees coming in that's the vastus lateralis. That's why as I stated earlier if you allow this to occur too much you get problems like patellar tracking or IT band syndrome.

Internal rotation (knees caving in) tends to favor the lateral aspect of the leg, while external rotation (knees coming out) will favor the medial aspect of the leg. Hence if you want to emphasize medial work with something like leg extensions in physical therapy for ACL rehab you want to externally rotate the femur a bit during SAQ/LAQ/quad sets.
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Last edited by Steven Low : 05-12-2009 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 05-12-2009, 07:22 PM   #8
Greg Pieris
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Re: leg/knee turning on squats?

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Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
Actually, caving in favors cheating with the vastus lateralis and tensor fasciae latae/IT band over the vastus medialis.

The muscle that's "on top" becomes the load bearer, and with the knees coming in that's the vastus lateralis. That's why as I stated earlier if you allow this to occur too much you get problems like patellar tracking or IT band syndrome.
Thanks for the correction. I always get the two confused!
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