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-   -   Knees bowing in on squats (http://www.catalystathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2084)

Ben Moskowitz 02-10-2008 08:43 PM

Knees bowing in on squats
I may have solved this problem, by playing around with my body.

For me, it's because of a lack of hip abductor flexibility. I think in my gluteus medius, but I'm not sure. The telling sign is I can't put my leg in a "figure 4" while sitting at all (for my right leg). It puts stress on my ankle and knee instead.

So ordinarily, glute stretches would do the trick. Except they stretch my ankle and knee out more than my glutes.


A weird modification, where I kneel down on the OK leg "prayer style," and make a figure 4/butterfly with the offending leg. With the opposite hand, I grab my foot so as to keep it perfectly parallel to the ground, so that I don't stress my ankle/knee while stretching.
Then, I lean over as you would in a butterfly or hamstring stretch: back neutral or arched, chest up. Kapowy, major stretchin' of the offendin' junk.

I guess the moral of the story is, if you're knees are bowing in, look for:

ankle mobility (I checked this first, it was OK)
hip mobility (ability to externally rotate the hip so it matches your "toes out" angle, so that your knee can line up with your feet).

I think the hip is the more likely problem here.
If you can sit Indian-style, or in a lotus, then you're probably cool.

Oh and for me, it was only my right leg. This caused the sensation of "leaning over" onto my left leg for driving out of the hole in the squat. It was like I was pushing more with my left leg all of a sudden. I believe it's because of right leg bowiness.

Stretching + glute/abductor activation + "shoving the knees out" = success for bowing, I believe.

If this is obvious information, then um, I'll delete this thread.

Greg Everett 02-10-2008 08:47 PM

Can you post a photo of the stretch?

Ben Moskowitz 02-11-2008 06:30 AM

2 Attachment(s)
OK, here's my photo.

You can actually hold your foot with whatever hand feels more comfy. The important part is to keep your foot in the same lateral plane as your knee and hip. If you feel a stretch in your ankle, you're doing it wrong.

Things that have worked for me in this stretch:
breathing deeply
letting the tension fade away
leaning forward with a flat back
leaning forward at a few different angles

You can do the same glute stretch while sitting too. Just make sure to keep your foot in line, so the stretch goes to butt.
Also, you can do a variation of the first stretch, but put your foot on some stairs so you don't have to get on the floor.

See how high my leg sits in the sitting stretch? That's a serious lack of flexibility.

Of course, I've only done this for a day, but I'm super psyched about being more mobile and injury-free.

I think this is also how the butterfly stretch works. Ordinarily, you should be releasing tension in your groin. If you ever feel like you're "stuck," it's because your glutes/ITB is inhibiting you from the other side. So you lean forward. Then you can lean back to keep opening up the groin.

All this business about moving around while stretching is true I think. It just helps to figure out exactly what kind of movement works for you. Unless you do a head to toe flexibility/mobility checkup, it will be hard to tell I guess.

Garrett Smith 02-11-2008 05:31 PM

Glad you're getting results so quickly. You've got some serious tightness going on.

You can get the same effect with serious application of force through the ankle with your own lower leg muscles as you are getting with your hands. Basically, use effort to prevent the ankle from "caving in". Or simply put the ankle out past the knee (in the second pic you posted) so that it is impossible to direct force into the ankle.

These two piriformis stretches may also hit the spot.

As I'm sure you've figured out, a little work on this area for you will pay big dividends.

Dave Paton 02-12-2008 06:35 AM

Go blue!

Ben Moskowitz 02-12-2008 07:02 PM

haha, it's actually my mom's alma mater. I'm a little more eastward...

Dr. G, that stretch really works a ton better now that I know what I'm stretching and how to do it, thanks.

Garrett Smith 02-13-2008 04:28 AM

Happy to help!

Ben Moskowitz 02-26-2008 07:59 AM

as an update
1) read p-menu 22, the Olympic Squat
2) the stretch with me on the floor can be stretched further in two ways
a. lean over
b. slide your kneeling leg backwards while maintaining an upright posture. Hold on to something on the suspect side to avoid falling over, like a chair or a pole. Eventually this becomes the "pigeon pose" that Dr. G linked to.

I would try both, they seem to hit different muscles or different parts of the muscle.

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