The Knees: Just Doing What The Feet and Hips Tell Them To Do
^ Left: Bad knee position, weak, and potentially dangerous. Right: Good knee position, healthy, stable, strong.
We all worry about our knees. They seem so vulnerable when we chuck 350 pounds on our back and drop our hips down toward the floor. Well they are vulnerable! Knee pain is extremely common primarily because the knees tend to have a little too much movement without enough muscular stability. The movements that we complete in Crossfit are hugely beneficial for improving the muscular stability of our knees but only if we do the movements correctly.
How do we do the movements correctly? It’s all about the ankles/feet and the hips. The ankles must be mobile enough to move through a squat position. If the ankles are tight (usually the calf muscle and achilles tendon are to blame) the knees will come too far forward in the squat. If the hips are tight or weak, the knees will move too far inward. Both of these abnormal squat movements puts too much load on the knee joints rather than the muscles around them.
So the answer to better knee health:
Keep the feet and ankles mobile (image 1)
Keep the hips flexible in the outward/abduction direction (image 2)
Keep the hips strong in the outward/abduction direction (image 3)
Use your coach to help you achieve the best form you are capable of! We don’t have mirrors at the gym so we must use our coaches.
Good squat form should translate into other movements: box jumps, pistols, wall balls, push press. Still be vigilant with your form and use your coaches eyes and expertise.
Image 1 Push front knee forward to stretch ankle. Hold 60 seconds 3 times
Image 2 Ease into the frog position. Hold for 2 minutes.
Image 3 Double wrap a light band around your knees. Lift top knee a few inches without rolling off of your side. 20 times slowly