Before you ask – no, squatting with your knees going past your toes won’t get you injured. This is a huge myth within the fitness industry. Look at a baby’s squat, notice how their knees flawlessly go past their toes as they sit in an upright position with ease. This is how bodies are meant to move, but we immobilize our joints as we grow up from sitting all of the damn time.
Keep Your Knees Healthy And Pain-Free
With that being said, squatting with your knees past your toes will probably get you injured if you have pain and pre-existing injuries and/or you can’t do normal activities like jumping, climbing stairs, dancing, etc. If you don’t experience pain with these movements, you’re likely able to incorporate exercises that will make your legs/knees flexible and strong. You want to ensure you aren’t doing too much too soon (i.e., squatting with too much load without proper technique, squatting way too often without enough time to recover, etc.). Slowly expose your body to new ranges of motion and exercises that load the knee joint. Take on the mentality of doing these without making it a hard workout. If you do an exercise your body isn’t prepared for, it will most likely make or keep your knees injured.
If you want to build a healthy knee joint, there are several exercises you can do to get started:
The goal of this exercise is to keep a straight line from neck to toes while leaning backwards to balance. As you descend, keep the back straight as you lift onto your toes, squeezing your glutes and bracing the core. You want to keep leaning back for balance and lift the arms over your head for a counterbalance (work to get rid of this step over time). Keep your hips extended the entire time.
You will need adequate hip flexor strength and compression for this exercise. Most of you will have enough mobility and strength to squat down on one leg (if you don’t, you’ll need to incorporate drills to improve leg strength), but compression at the hips is where most people fall short. In the below video, we have exercises to build strength and mobility in hips and ankles, as well as compression strength drills!
This one is going to work similarly to pistol squats and to a single leg deadlift. It aids in building adequate unilateral strength and overall better balance.
For each exercise, you MUST make sure you start with the proper progressions for each in your workouts. In doing so, you will see enhanced mobility (and strength) in your bulletproof knees!
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