Why Do the Knees Come in During Heavy Squat Attempts?

By djpope

October 28, 2018

dynamic valgus, form, genu valgus, knee in, Olympic Lifting, olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, squat, squatting, Technique, valgus

So we’ve all heard that the knees coming in during squatting isn’t really a good thing.  Knee in during squats can increase stress on the lateral (outside) portion of the patellar femoral joint.  Knee in at the bottom of a squat (combined hip flexion, adduction and internal rotation) can also create increased compression in the front of the hip.  Too much of this stress can lead to pain in some people.

I think most people understand that keeping the knees aligned with the toes can maximize the health of the knees and hips but what I think people don’t always get is:

“Why Do the Knees Come in During Heavy Squat Attempts”

Is it weak glutes?  Mobility issues? Didn’t eat your Wheaties that morning? Maybe a combination of all 3?  Having thought about this issue quite a bit and discussing with my colleague Dave Tilley, here are my best guesses as to why this happens.  Check it out:

So there you have it, with a combination of the adductor magnus (adductors) trying to find a more optimal length tension relationship and the glutes (which are generally hip extensors and external rotators) being in a more disadventageous position (maximally stretches at end range hip flexion) the knees get pulled in during the most challenging portion of the lift.

I also believe the knees come in because the body is trying to find stability from more passive structures, but that’s a story for another day.  If you enjoyed this short clip then I wanted to let you know it’s part of a much longer webinar series included with subscription into my Fitness Pain Free Insiders Online Mentoring Program:

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Knee in for the win,

Dan Pope DPT, OCS, CSCS, CF L1