Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Knee Air/Box Squat Knee Fault: How far forward is forward?


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    • #70576
      AvatarDalton Post
      Hi Folks,

      Trying to get my squats perfect, and reduce the impact on my knees.

      In particular I’m working my VMO in order to correct a muscle imbalance that may be contributing to patellofemoral pain / mal-tracking when cycling. So I’m doing air and box squats while squeezing a soccer ball between my knees.

      I’m trying to make sure I’m not going knee forward and keeping my shins straight. But it’s pretty difficult, and I seem to end up toppling backward.

      So I’m wondering, should the knee be allowed to come forward slightly during the squat, or should I really be trying to squat like I’m knee deep in concrete?

      In the BASL book, the pictures of correct form seem to show the knee coming forward slightly — but its there a rule to it? Say no further than the toes?

      (If that was the case, I could squat with my toes to a box, and if my knees touch it, I know i’ve failed.)

      Any advice welcome!

    • #73132

      From what I’ve learned, the knee’s can come forward, but they should be one of the last things to load during a regular squat (air, box, back – high and low). The front squat is the only exception since your torso needs to remain quite vertical. Also, try to make sure that the most they ever come forward is to your toes. But ultimately, target keeping them pulled back and shins vertical as much as possible

      It’s nice to see others going through the same issues I’ve gone through. I had PFS and needed to work on my VMO as well. But the biggest thing that helped was applying external rotation from the hip/femur all the way down my leg to create a good arch in my foot – at the time I had also been diagnosed with an extreme flat foot and was overpronating quite a bit.

      Keeping the arch during everyday movements and sports has been then key to my success. It just becomes difficult during sports when I can’t concentrate on the arch.

      If you’re falling backwards – check your arch during ankle mobility work, and make sure your hip flexors and adductors aren’t crazy tight. The latter is where most of my problems still lay.

    • #73141

      Yes the knee will come slightly forward at the bottom of your squat.
      If you are falling backwards in a squat you are lacking hip flexion at end range.
      Episode 262: Hip Flexion Case Study and MobRx Part 1
      Episode 262: Hip Flexion Case Study and MobRx Part 2
      Daily Rx
      August 21
      August 22
      August 23
      It may be a load ordering issue.
      First movement is your hips back vs your knee coming forward.
      Voodoo Band Your Patella Femoral Pain

    • #73180
      AvatarLuis Marquez


      Even with perfect squat form your knees will track forward slightly. If you are getting your knees outside your ankles on your squat your knees will track forward some but that is fine, no failing there.I agree with Thor and Kaitlin that your hips are a big issue for most squatters check these mwods (taking it back)
      Episode 72:Square Dancing and Grenade Throwing
      Super Squat Hip Sequence pre-workout (this one changed my hips and my squat forever)

      Happy Squatting

    • #73226
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      Hey Jim,

      I would say most of the difficulty you’re having keeping the knees back is a function of the narrow squat stance you’d have to use to keep a soccer ball between your knees. The only way you’d be able to keep the shin super vertical would be to hinge way forward at the hips to counterbalance.
      With squatting in general, the maxim that Starrett usually throws out is “knees as vertical as possible for as long as possible”. Like Thor said, just make sure the knees aren’t the first thing to load (hamstrings back first), and I would add that the end of your toes is as far forward as I’d let them go (excepting pistols).
    • #73255
      AvatarDalton Post

      Thanks folks.

      I think I’ve started to nail it. Seemed the key ingredient I was missing was glute activation. Keeping them powered and it all clicks into place. Simple.
      Don’t know why that hadn’t occurred to me before!
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