Part 2: Initiating the squat with the knees
First of all, I can’t EVEN with the above picture. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Hopefully you read part one of this article; if not you can do so HERE.
The second squat fault that I see in experienced crossfitters is initiating the squat with the knees. At first, it seems like this would be a rookie mistake, but in reality it can be SO SUBTLE that even the strongest squatter might not realize they’re doing it.
I like to tell my patients who are learning to squat “whichever joint moves first will move the most.” It’s a good reminder for those of us who have been squatting for years as well. I say this to mean, if you start the squat by breaking at the knees, instead of sending the butt backwards, you are MOST likely going to overload the anterior knee and not engage the booty as much as you wish you were (or I wish you were.)
Initiating the knees first also makes it MUCH more likely that you are going to end up with your knees in front of your toes at the bottom of your squat, especially if you have good mobility.
Letting the knees travel in front of the toes is a controversial topic if you are a movement-nerd like me, but in my CLINICAL experience, the more you can keep you knee in line with the toes (vertically speaking) the less likely you are to end up with knee pain from squatting.
In my experience, it takes a LOT of squats to finally feel that overload that is occurring at the infrapatellar tendon, but once you do, it is hard to alleviate it without CHANGING the way you squat.
It doesn’t get that way over night, and it doesn’t fix itself overnight either.
Another way to keep from overloading the anterior chain (quads and knees) is to ever-so-slightly lower the bar on your back. There is a reason that power lifters chose a low-bar back squat over a high-bar back squat; you’re able to load more weight into your posterior chain (glutes and hammys) this way. I’m not suggesting everyone adopt a low-bar position, just simply roll the bar 1/2 inch down the back to use a kind of hybrid-position. This will help center the weight more over the center of your mass.
So next time you’re squatting, have someone watch you or set up your phone and film yourself. Make sure that you are breaking SLIGHTLY at the hips first instead of at the knees. It is a relatively easy fix that can alleviate a lot of knee pain down the road.
Look out for Part 3 next week!!