How many times have you heard, “Do not let your knees go past your toes or you will get injured” proclaimed by some health “expert” or fitness “guru”, especially during exercises like squats and lunges.
Not only is this unrealistic, but it is actually a practice that will leave you more injury prone than allowing your knees to go past the toes.
Reasons Why Not Letting Your Knees Pass Your Toes Isn’t a Good Idea
One of the easiest ways to set yourself up for an injury is an immobile ankle. What happens when you trip and roll over an immobile ankle? It over stretches too rapidly and is injured because it is not used to the demands of being mobile.
The VMO is a tear drop shaped muscle on the inside of your legs near the knee that helps stabilize the knee during actions. Weak VMOs are known to be causes of knee pain and ACL tears. One of the places that the VMO gets the most stimulus is in the last 15 degrees of the bottom of a squat. By only going to parallel in a squat out of fear of letting your knees go past your toes, you are actually passing up strengthening the VMO and gaining its protective benefits.
Lack of preparation
If you have a range of motion, you had better be strong in it. What happens when an opponent or a patch of ice forces you into a deep squat? Perhaps you need to pick up a heavy object or your child from running into the street. If you haven’t prepared to let the knee go past the toes, when the situation arises that forces into that position, it will not end up well for you.
Instead, practice your squats and split squats with full depth. Strengthen your legs in that range of motion and you will not have to fear going into it.
Benefits of Letting you Knees Pass Your Toes
You will gain the benefits of:
Properly balanced leg strength with a functioning VMO to help protect your knees. Remember the VMO is most active at the top and bottom 15 degrees.
Studies consistently show that full squats provide better gains in strength and power than half or quarter squats. In most sporting events, your knees will pass the toes regardless of what your fitness “expert” says. Look at where linemen are after the snap in football or where a track athlete starts on the blocks or a weightlifter at the bottom of a clean.
A group of muscles that are strong in a particular range of motion are less likely to be injured when they enter that range, whether that motion is by choice or forced.
Start squatting all the way down and allow your knees to go past the toes!
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