At times a controversial discussion point in the fitness community is debating whether it is safe for your knees to come forward over your toes when you are squatting. The reason it is deemed a problem is due to perceived excessive stress on the knee joint.
But what does the research say about this commonly held belief? In a study by Fry, Smith & Schilling (2003) subjects squatted in two conditions: (1) knees able to pass the toes and (2) a box preventing knees from moving forward. What they found was that in condition (2) subjects had 22% decrease in knee torque but a 1070% increase in hip torque. So yes, there is a small change in knee pressure when you allow your knees to come over the toes, but it significantly reduces pressure on the hip joint.
Additionally, we know that our bodies are able to adapt when we use progressive loading and while a sudden increase in squatting with knees past toes may lead to some niggles, so long as the new stimulus is gradually introduced we should be able to avoid such injuries.
The purpose of this blog is by no means to suggest that everyone should be squatting with their knees past their toes but to challenge some of the views on a commonly held belief that it is dangerous to do so. You should always use the best available information to make an appropriate decision for YOUR health when it comes to training decisions. If you currently have a knee injury, then it would be best to gradually introduce this extra knee stress by consulting a health professional.
This blog was written by David our physiotherapist at Health Space Clinics. You can find him at our Rozelle and Burwood clinics and if you would like to make an appointment please call us at 9810 8769.