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Causes of Knee Valgus

Well I was in the middle of writing a post on the methods I employ to speed recovery between training sets and also increase general endurance. Half way through I realised I don’t have the video footage I needed and my camera is in the gym. My bad, I’m stoopid.


So I guess you’ll just have to check in later in the week for that one!

This did lead to a small issue though….

What the hell do I write about for this morning?

And then I come across THIS from one of the biggest brains in the Strength & Conditioning industry, Mr Bret Contreras. Whatever Brett writes is worth a read. He takes the science research, goes through it with a fine toothcomb and then presents it to us mere luddites in a manner we can almost understand!

The article I’m referring to today is from his Strength & Conditioning Research journal, which is an excellent resource for all coaches. This particular one talks about a thing called Knee Valgus. Click this image to go to the article:

Click to read article

What is knee valgus?

It’s where your knees pull together, giving that knock kneed look. It’s very common when people squat, even more common in the female population.


So what’s wrong with knee valgus?

It can put an excessive amount of stress on the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Which obviously aint good.

So how about do we go about fixing it?

That depends on the cause. As Brets post states, some potential causes (which are also the ones I always look for)

decreased gluteal activation or strength, increased hip-adductor activation and decreased ankle-dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM)

Makes sense. For the knee to move into a valgus position the hip must rotate internally, in orther words our external rotators aren’t working right and our internal rotators (Adductors, Hip Flexors) are doing overtime. It may also be that the arch of the foot has started to collapse leading to the ankle tracking poorly. It all follows the alternating joint theory nice and neatly, where the ankle should be mobile, the knee stable and the hips mobile. An problem at one joint means another must take up the slack by becoming more/less mobile/stable.

I don’t think any one symptom occurs independently but they have a cascade effect, either from the top down or the bottom up.

The study in Brets post talks about the Gastocnemius (the fat part of the calf) is mentioned as being over active and causing problems for the Anterior Tibialis on the front of the shin. Something I’d never considered. Could this also help explain shin splints? Maybe.

Needless to say I’m going to start paying more attention to peoples gastroc flexibility and have them work more ankle mobilisation as soon as I see any valgus during squat movements. I use two ankle mobilisations already with the guys, the primary drill being the Wall Ankle Mobilisation (catchy title, eh?)

Here’s top coach Eric Cressy explaining how it works:

It’s one of the drills I teach during the Squatting section in my Bodyweight Workshop. The next workshop is coming up on February 23rd at Galway Kettlebells. This is filling fast, so if you want to learn:

– Joint mobilisation for the whole body – In depth examination of the Push Up and Squat movements, with progressions for more advanced practitioners. – Martial Arts & Animal movements for strength, conditioning and mobility – More, in fact as much as we can fit in!

Drop me an email to book your spot.



#Coaching #KneeValgus #AnkleMobility #ACLInjury #BretContreras

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