When it comes to performing squats and lunges, there has long been a common belief that exercisers should never let their knees go past the toes. This notion has led to widespread confusion and misinformation about proper form and safety during these exercises. In this blog post, we will examine the validity of this claim and explore the correct approach to performing squats and lunges for optimal results and injury prevention.
Is it Safe to Let the Knees Go Past the Toes?
Contrary to popular belief, completely restricting the forward movement of the knees during squats and lunges is not the safest approach. While it is crucial to avoid excessive forward knee movement, completely preventing the knees from going past the toes is a myth. In fact, leaning the trunk too far forward is more likely to cause injury than allowing the knees to move naturally.
Consider the Kinetic Chain
Research conducted in 2003 revealed that restricting forward knee movement during squats increased hip stress by nearly 1,000%. Conversely, allowing the knees to move past the toes increased knee stress by only 28%. This highlights the importance of considering the entire kinetic chain and not fixating solely on knee position.
Proper Squat Technique
The glute dominant squat, starting with a hip hinge and gradually lowering the body, is the preferred method.
This technique prevents premature forward knee movement by shifting the hips backward. As the body descends, a natural forward movement of the knees is expected to maintain balance within the base of support.
Proper Lunge Technique
Before lowering the body into a lunge, there are two crucial factors to consider. Firstly, ensure there is enough space between the front and back legs, adjusting the distance according to individual leg length. Secondly, initiate the lowering movement by bending the back leg rather than the front leg. This strategy prevents excessive forward movement of the front knee, promoting proper form and reducing the risk of injury.
The notion that one should never let the knees go past the toes during squats and lunges is a misconception. While it is essential to maintain proper form and avoid excessive forward knee movement, completely restricting the knees is unnecessary and may even increase the risk of injury. Understanding the kinetic chain, utilizing proper squat and lunge techniques, and considering individual limb length are key factors in performing these exercises safely and effectively. By debunking this myth, we can empower individuals to optimize their workouts and achieve better results while minimizing the risk of knee-related issues.