What does the cue “knees out” mean?
We all love to squat – light, heavy, multiple reps. During your time at the Treehouse you may have been told by a coach “knees out!”
First let’s discuss an appropriate squat. Keep your feet flat on the ground for the entire movement. The feet should be straight forward or slightly out (not beyond 30 degrees). When going up or down, the knee should track directly over the feet.
Novice lifters tend to cave in their knees (knee valgus) during squats. Knee valgus may predispose you to injury, such as ACL injuries or patellofemoral syndrome. This correlation between knee injury and valgus collapse has led coaches to work to correct movement. Our goal is for you to get strong, not hurt!
When your knee collapses in, you will tend to drive through the inside edges of your feet. This does not give you a stable platform to drive the weight up. “Knees out” allows you to activate the muscles of the legs, buttocks, pelvis, and back and this will produce more hip drive out of the bottom of the squat. Do not simply turn your feet out. “Knees out” creates torque, which if your feet are out, you cannot create the adequate torque for your squat. When your knee is in a natural angle with your muscles in proper tension and torque, you will be in a safe position for the squat movement, especially under heavier loads.
When we say “knees out” we are not asking you to push your knees out as far as you can. Do not misunderstand this cue. Pushing your knees far outside the feet (into a varus position) can result in lateral injuries of the knee. So what is important is to break down your squat technique and perform it correctly, ensuring your knees remain over the feet. You may find any knee pain or symptoms you have will alleviate or disappear as your technique improves.
Our work to retrain valgus collapse by using cues such as “Knees Out!” aim to reinforce proper squat form. Keep up the great squats Treehouse – If you have any questions, be sure to ask your Coach for Life!