by Amanda Jane Snyder
One of the very first things I learned in fitness and then in my studies as a Certified Personal Trainer was tibial translation; or knees should not go past the toes in a squat or lunge.
What we learned in these certifiactions was that knees going past our toes can result in knee pain and potential knee injury in the future.
Today, as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Performance Enhancement Specialist, I have a very different opinion and would even argue that our knees SHOULD go past our toes.
Sooo... what's the answer? Should our knees go past our toes or not? And are we at risk of injury if we consistently do one of the other?
The thing about health, fitness, and nutrition is there is continuous research and different schools of thought constantly challenging current ideas and what we may think to be fact.
If you get anything out of this blog post, I recommend never latching on to ONE identity or ONE school of thought or ONE idea as fact or as the ONLY solution or the only RIGHT way. We never want to fall into the trap that there is only one way. We should constantly be researching, learning, and challenging our ideas, especially in an industry where science can sometimes show conflicting results. What might work for one person might not work for you and vice versa.
Okay, back to knees over toes in a sqaut.
If you go to a traditional box gym or studio gym, a common correction you'll hear from a trainer is,
"Don't let your knees go over your toes."
But this concept is much more complex, and with our knees only remaining perpendicular to the ground, we might actually be doing more harm than good to our hips and lumbar spine.
If we don't allow our knees to go past our toes, we put unnecessary pressure on our hips by forcing them to go further back than they should. This puts excess load on our hips and more strain on our lower back (as if we need causes for lower back pain)!!
You might even find that when you prevent your knees from going past your toes:
1. you may feel as though you are going to fall back
2. you can't get as low in your squat
3. you achieve a butt wink (rounding) when you do go low.
Again, all of this leads to unnecessary strain on your hips and low back which can put you at risk of chronic injury!
So what exactly is it that CPTs are learning when they say "don't let knees go past your toes?"
The message that may be lost in translation is that we don't want our knees to go so past our toes so much so that our heels start to come up in our squat as seen below.
If your heels are coming up, we may have a different problem which includes lack of ankle, foot, hamstring, and groin mobility and flexibility, something entirely different altogether.
SO, aim for a little something in between and REMEMBER to stay inquisitive and keep your mind open to new research and schools of thought and most importantly, do your research on your trainer! Are they continuining their education and staying up to date on current research? Ask them what their most recent continuing education course was and see what they have to say. Most good trainers are EXCITED to talk about what they're learning, and would be happy to share with you.
Amanda Jane Snyder is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY. She has been vegan for 4 years. She specializes in Strength and Conditioning for Actors, Singers and Dancers.
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