Is squatting bad for your knees?
Is deep squatting harmful for your knee
If your knees go past you toes when you squat, is that bad?

I get these questions all the time and especially if patients have heard these half-truths from their doctor, its hard to make them understand that “IT DEPENDS”

This is part 2. Read part 1 here

Many of us have heard this: “do not squat your knees past your toes”, but is it really true?

Yes, you may get more torque (20% increase) in your knee if your knees move past the toes, but if you limit this forward movement torque in the hip & low back may go up as much as 1000%. 20% increase in torque should be well within what a normal knee can handle!

In order to reach FULL depth in the squat the knees almost always have to move forward past the toes. Olympic weightlifters are a great example of this, as they need to train at full depth for their sport, and so often squat with their knees past their toes, and with very high loads too! If you have no knee pain, you can go full depth and with knees past the toes.

We often hear the popular ‘knees over toes’ cue, which actually means don’t let the knees collapse inwards or outwards and keep them in line with the feet. This has nothing to do with knees going past the toes!

What people also tend to forget is that each type of squat is MEANT to have differing amounts of forward knee travel, due to the varying demands placed on the joints of the lower limb due to the different bar positions.
So don’t go expecting someone to have the same amount of forward knee movement in a front squat compared to a low bar back squat.

However, it’s probably not a bad idea to limit ‘excessive’ forward knee travel to prevent undue strain on the patellar tendon and patellofemoral joint. And by excessive I’m talking knees being more than 4-6 inches in front of the toes every rep in people that squat heavy and often.
The main exception is people with anterior knee pain: pain in the front of the knee: try to limit forward movement and focus on a box squat or even a goblet squat to keep the shins more vertical


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