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Knees over Toes? Good or bad?

In 1978, a study came out suggesting that letting your knees travel over your toes is “bad” for your knees, an idea that caught on and stayed around for quite some time. However, there have since been hundreds of additional studies in the last 40 years that have proven otherwise – that letting your knees move over your toes isn’t only safe, but also extremely important for long-term knee health.

Think about it: if it were dangerous, sprinting, jumping, squatting, biking, and walking up the stairs (let alone sitting down and standing up) would be harmful. Fortunately, athletes (and everyone else) aren’t that fragile. Here are some of the main benefits that knees over toes training can provide:

  • It builds strength through the knee joint’s full range of motion and has been shown to be significantly more effective for strengthening the musculature surrounding the knee (which play a big role in injury prevention).
  • It leads to better sprint, jump, and change of direction performance. It’s also generally seen as more effective for building muscle in the quadriceps, which are involved in just about every lower body movement.
  • It decreases injury risk in the knee as well as the involved tendons, ligaments (e.g., ACLs), and cartilage, and has shown to be extremely effective for preventing and managing osteoarthritis).

If anything, not letting your knees travel forward is dangerous. Avoiding it at all costs is how you become ill-equipped to handle any sort of stress in athletics or real life. Remember: stress isn’t a bad thing; being unequipped to handle stress is.

What’s more, trying to restrict forward knee translation can increase hip and low back stress by nearly 1000% (not a typo) as per one University of Memphis study. Several other studies have found that letting the knees come forward is more favorable since it leads to better load management across the involved joints.

Of course, if someone has an injury that’s irritated by having their knees traveling far forward, temporarily managing it makes sense. But staying away from it for good is a surefire way to be unprepared to handle stress when it inevitably happens in sport or life.

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