Where does the knee go? Where it has to!

This is not a new debate. When I first started weight training in 1963 the big debate was on full squats. Were they safe? As you know in a full squat the knee goes out over the toe. Even at that time it did not make sense to me to limit where the knee should go. Remember a full squat is breaking parallel. Even at that time as high school student when I did what was taught as “strict” technique my back hurt after squatting. We were told to do quarter squats, half squats and even bench squats (the pre cursor to back squats) None of them felt natural. The full squat felt right. This may have been the first time when I began to suspect that the experts did not know everything. Around 1965 or 1966 I got a hold of a book written by a man named John Jesse. He was a pioneer in training. He was essentially a physical therapist who had a real extensive sports background. In this book, unfortunately I cannot remember the title; he cited a study done at the University of Texas in the 1950’s where they looked at over a thousand baseball catchers. As you know catchers squat full and deep and the knee goes way out over the toe. They found no unusual knee problems in that population. There was also a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published some time in the last 18 months that looked at the result of restricting forward knee movement in squatting. (Sorry I do not have the exact reference at my finger tips) In essence it said that restricting forward movement of the knee puts more stress on the low back. Remember the body is a link system, it we restrict movement in one part another part must make up for that movement.


At 8/24/06, 10:36 AM, Anonymous patrick ward said...

Here is the abstract for you:

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 629–633.
Effect of Knee Position on Hip and Knee Torques During the Barbell Squat

Human Performance Laboratories, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee 38152


Some recommendations suggest keeping the shank as vertical as possible during the barbell squat, thus keeping the knees from moving past the toes. This study examined joint kinetics occurring when forward displacement of the knees is restricted vs. when such movement is not restricted. Seven weight-trained men (mean ± SD; age = 27.9 ± 5.2 years) were videotaped while performing 2 variations of parallel barbell squats (barbell load = body weight). Either the knees were permitted to move anteriorly past the toes (unrestricted) or a wooden barrier prevented the knees from moving anteriorly past the toes (restricted). Differences resulted between static knee and hip torques for both types of squat as well as when both squat variations were compared with each other (p < 0.05). For the unrestricted squat, knee torque (N·m; mean ± SD) = 150.1 ± 50.8 and hip torque = 28.2 ± 65.0. For the restricted squat, knee torque = 117.3 ± 34.2 and hip torque = 302.7 ± 71.2. Restricted squats also produced more anterior lean of the trunk and shank and a greater internal angle at the knees and ankles. The squat technique used can affect the distribution of forces between the knees and hips and on the kinematic properties of the exercise. Practical applications: Although restricting forward movement of the knees may minimize stress on the knees, it is likely that forces are inappropriately transferred to the hips and low-back region. Thus, appropriate joint loading during this exercise may require the knees to move slightly past the toes.


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