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Knees Over Your Toes, Please!

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Knees Over Your Toes, Please!

Should your knees go over your toes when you do any leg exercises like a squat or lunge? YES

Have you ever tried to walk up or down stairs keeping your shin vertical?

What about Olympic lifting competitors, who put their knees well over their toes, with maximum amount of weight on the barbell.

Knees all the way over the toes, very hard to be an effective lifter with straight shins.

Knees all the way over the toes, very hard to be an effective lifter with straight shins.

The knee is designed to go over your toes, full stop! The forces on the knee are actually less when it is flexed because of the co contraction of the hamstrings and quadriceps. This co contraction actually helps to counteract the force on the knee cap (patella). Studies have shown that Olympic lifters actually have the lowest rate of knee injuries.

This year alone we have had several clients come in and say, oh you want my knee over my toes? One client who had knee pain, was told by another allied health professional, who I should add doesn’t have any qualifications to design exercise programs. For some reason everyone has this perception they know better then someone who has spent their life learning about exercise and the correct techniques.

There are plenty of sporting situations apart from Olympic lifting, where the knees are over the toes, such as start for track sprints, swimmers, cyclist have their knees over their toes, one last example is a sport such as fencing, where they spend the entire event lunging forward at their opponent.

Tom & Laura showing two different versions of the split squat, both with their knees over their toes.

Tom & Laura showing two different versions of the split squat, both with their knees over their toes.

If you have knee pain, then you have to have it diagnosed by the correct healthcare practitioner. If you do have pain under or around the knee cap, there generally will be some sort of imbalance that needs to be corrected. The most common imbalance is the Vastus Medalis Oblique (VMO) is weak in comparison to the Vastus Lateralis. To strengthen the VMO there are certain exercises, the VMO is activated the most at the top 15% of knee flexion and bottom 15% of knee flexion.

Therefore, if you want to strength the VMO we often give clients exercises that use the top range, like a Poliquin Step Up or a more challenging one is the split squat with a quarter rep at the bottom, in addition to a full repetition.

So please when you squat, split squat, lunge, step up have your knees over your toes, this will not only help with your knee pain, but will strength the VMO and hamstrings at the same time. You will be surprised with the benefits of doing proper training of your legs.

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