Our knees are built to withstand a lot of forces. That’s why the joint is built the way it is. The cartilage, mensicus, ligaments, bursa, tendons and muscles all help to support the joint so that we can function on a day to day basis. But if we don’t give our body the TLC it needs (stretching, foam rolling, practicing good form, etc.) it can start to break down this is why good form is so important.
Basically what my patient’s squat form looked like…
Here are a few examples of bad form while squatting:
- both knees caving in (with the injured knee caving more excessively)
- both knees tracking way too far over his feet
- excessive collapsing of arches
The knee joint is meant to roll and slide. Nice and smooth, with all the muscles working together to reduce stress on the joint. When you get tight muscles surrounding the joint (even the joints surrounding such as the hips and ankle) the amount of compressive and shear force on the joint increase. Especially when someone is unable to use their glutes during a squat because this alters the muscle activity that helps to keep the roll and slide smooth.
Besides the above weakness and tightness problems, form has a huge affect on the mechanics of our knee joint. Which is why the coaches are always drilling the importance of good form.
Here are some of the major problems that arise from poor squatting form
1. When the knees cave in we are putting excessive stress on the medial portion of the knee (medial meniscu, medial collateral ligament, ACL) and not allowing it to roll and slide without compromising the tissues in and around the knee.
2. When we have limited ankle mobility, the only way to get down in the proper squat depth is allow the arches to collapse and knees to cave in. Altering the ability of the knee to work properly.
3. When the knees track too forward over the feet there is excessive shear forces on the knee. The tibia (T in the image above) should be maintained relatively upright during a squat to reduce forces on the patella and surrounding tendons.
4. Having a quad dominant squat (not sending your butt back) also places extra stress on the knee.
Key points to think about while squatting:
- Try to keep your shins as vertical as possible. The more they fall forward (knees forward), the more shear force placed on your knees.
- The hips and knees should move at the same time when you go down and when you go up. Don’t break up the movements.
- Get your hamstrings involved your your squat to help balance out the forces of your quads. This is done by sending your butt back.
- Keep your knees out and turn out on the dinner plates, keeping your butt engaged so that your knees don’t collapse in.