Whether you are new to the gym or a long term veteran, the squat should be a key part of your weights program. The squat is one of the best exercises you can perform to develop total body strength, power and overall athleticism. However, there are still some common myths, misconceptions and overall confusion amongst gym goers which can dispel some from performing this exercise and reaping the raft of benefits the squat provides. Part 2 of this blog series will hopefully drive away some of those myths and get you squatting in no time.
Should knees go past your toes?
This is probably the most common myth between gym-goers. Someone somewhere along the way has probably told you that if your knees go past your toes, then you are risking hurting your knees.
So let's break down the facts.
It is true that when your knees go past your toes there is an increase in load through them, but this was found to be roughly a 28% increase. Your knees are very robust and can handle this increased torque quite easily. The real problem actually comes when you DON’T let your knees travel past your toes! When research later looked into the effects on the rest of the body when you don’t let your knees go over your toes in the squat (Fry et al. 2003), they found that the shear load through your lower back actually increases by over 1000%!
So the real question is this: Would you rather increase knee stress slightly with a full squat, or would you rather increase lower back stress significantly by not allowing your knees to pass your toes? Probably best to let those knees travel past your toes...
- Your knees must go past your toes in the squat to make sure you are loading your entire body appropriately.
- A trade off of 28% increased knee torque seems reasonable to save a 1000% increase in lumbar spine forces