Debunking the BS- Should the knees shouldn’t go past toes in a squat?
In the many years I have been a coach/trainer there has always been this myth about not letting your knees past your toes while squatting. No one is certain where this myth started. However, it has become a mainstay in today’s fitness and medical world. The instruction is even a part of the National Strength and Conditioning Associations (NSCA) guidelines for how to teach a proper squat.
The cue to limit the knees from moving past the toes during the squat is really nothing more than a quick fix to a deeper problem. In hindsight the originators of the cue were likely well-intentioned strength coaches or physical therapists.When an athlete squats poorly, they often move from their ankles first. As the ankles move it causes the knees to hinge forward. The weight of the body is then shifted forward on to the balls of the feet. This type of movement problem has been called the “knees first” approach. Moving in this way leads to greater shear forces on the knee joint and contributes to increased risk of injury and eventually to painDuring lunge or squat movements, we should always emphasise beginning the movement by pushing the hips backwards before they lower towards the floor (a term referred to as “hip-hinging”) This avoids premature forward movement of the knee by shifting the hips backwards. As we continue to lower our body downward, this creates a healthy hinge effect at the knee, but there comes a time where the knee will begin to move forward in order to maintain our balance (keeping our centre of mass within our base of support). If you happen to have long limbs, then it is realistic to expect your knees to move forward over or beyond the toes. Any attempt to prevent this will result in either falling backwards or in bad squat or lunge technique which places increased loads into your low back.
So, in short. It is correct to avoid excessive forward movement of the knee during squatting and lunging movements. It is a myth, however, that you should “never let your knees go past your toes while doing a squat or lunge.”
Charlie JamesPersonal Trainer