Written By - Thane Widmer
You’ve probably heard of knee valgus, but might not know exactly what it is and how detrimental it can be to your fitness goals. Knee valgus is prevalent in the fitness community, especially in younger athletes or those with little experience in exercising. It can be an indicator of various weaknesses throughout the body and can even increase the likelihood of injuries.
What is knee valgus?
Knee valgus is when the knee ‘falls’ inward due to hip adduction and hip internal rotation. It can also be thought of as the knee ‘caving in’ during hip flexion.
Why is correcting knee valgus important?
Correcting knee valgus is important because it can lead to knee pain, IT band syndrome, and worst case, ACL tears.
Why does knee valgus occur?
Knee valgus can occur for a variety of reasons:
- Hip weakness of the glute medius/maximus/minimus can lead to the hips going into internal rotation and adduction.
- Tight ankles can also lead to an increased likelihood of knee valgus due to an inability for the knee to move forward, thus causing internal rotation and adduction of the hip.
How can this be fixed?
1. Strengthening the Hip/Glutes
There are many ways to strengthen the hips and glutes. One of my favorite exercises to strengthen the hips/glutes is the banded clam-shell. This exercise focuses on the gluteus medius, which can usually be the cause of instability within the hip capsule.
2. Ankle Mobility
An increase in ankle mobility (dorsiflexion) can decrease the amount of force distributed throughout the lower kinetic chain and take stress off of the hip capsule. An easy way to open up the ankle joint is to use a band and put it right above where the foot and ankle connect in the front and perform mobilizations. An example of this is below, where the band is wrapped around the front of the ankle and the athlete mobilizes by moving his knees forward while keeping the foot flat on the ground.
3. Banded Squatting
Knee valgus is most likely to occur/be seen while an individual is squatting. An easy way to spot this is if the knee collapses during the downward motion of the squat. It is most commonly seen before the ‘sticking point’ at the bottom. However, an easy way to correct this motion could be to place a small band above the participant's knees, which causes them to move out of internal rotation/adduction and focus on pushing their knees outward.
A lot of coaches will instruct participants to put a band below their knee, however this causes the hips to naturally internally rotate, which does nothing to solve the issue of knee valgus, but instead reinforces this weakness.
Now you know what the valgus of the knee entails and how to fix it before it becomes an issue. These quick tips can help alleviate some of the strain that knee valgus can have on your knee and the kinetic chain starting from the ankle.