I Am Become Valgus, Destroyer of Knees

Knee valgus (chronic inward collapsing of the knees during a squat, pictured below) is a very common dysfunctional movement pattern, one of many exacerbated by the Age of Sitting:

The root of valgus is underdeveloped lateral muscle chains, especially at the outer hip (gluteus medius). This almost always presents with stiff, shortened lateral fascia. In other words, your “side butt” is weak, inflexible, and doesn’t fire properly at the initiation of a squat. This shifts load out of the hips and into the distal quadricep, a much weaker lever. The result is overload at the inner knee/MCL.

Over time this degrades the MCL and leads to knee pain, hip pain, back pain, injury, etc. Valgus prompts many would-be movers to quit and return to the sedentary life that created it in the first place. That’s unacceptable.

What To Do

Fortunately, knee valgus is easy to fix, from a mechanical standpoint. If inward collapse of the knee is the problem then you must habituate yourself to outward movement of the knee. Here are a couple valgus vanquishers anyone can do at home:

  1. Plie squats. A move taken from ballet, the plie externally rotates the ankles before initiating the squat, forcing engagement of the gluteus medius. The ankle rotation will restrict your depth, and that’s okay. Do 3 sets of 8 slowly. Maintain a neutral torso position (don’t lean forward or backward).
  2. Side leg lifts. This move isolates gluteus medius and the lateral chain. The keys are 1) keep the lifting leg completely straight and 2) don’t tilt (lean sideways) at the torso. Use a wall for balance if necessary. 2 sets of 20 per leg.

This will improve your knee position, but you must also correct foot position. The internal rotation of the hip that collapses the knees inward also results in external rotation at the foot. This results in chronic pronation and eversion aka “duck feet:”

There’s a lot of ways to fix duck feet. Here’s one:

No More Duck Feet

Whether athlete or beginner, valgus must be detected and corrected for peak performance and injury prevention. Wanna learn more? Give us a call!

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