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The Truth About Knee Valgus
We’ve had a couple of internet coaches giving their feedback on one of our lifters this week regarding knee valgus, so I thought that I would take this time to give some feedback. First, I am a strength coach and weightlifting coach. I am not a physical therapist nor do I want to be. A lot of trainers and coaches out there are trying to be both. When an elite level weightlifter moves 1,000 miles to train with me, my job is to get them as humanly strong as possible. That’s exactly what I try to do. We have three men competing at the World Championships this year, which is more than any other club in America. This is how I measure success, and it’s the only way that I measure success.
When the Carolina Panthers take the field on Sunday, do you think that the owner is watching their functional movement patterns or the result on the scoreboard? My point is that the elite level weightlifters that I coach do not have weak glutes. December Garcia clean & jerks 116kg/255lb weighing 63kg/138lb. She has a monster butt, and I promise that it’s not weak.
Now on the other hand if I have a 12-year-old just starting to train, my goal is to stabilize that young athlete. I prefer to teach them a squat with the knees and toes aligned in a very stable manner. As an athlete advances, their body will learn movement patterns that will allow them to move the most weight. As long as that athlete doesn’t have any specific anatomical weaknesses and especially no asymmetries, then I am going to let an advanced lifter do their thing.
Once again, I am a strength coach, so I am going to let my Physical Therapist friends talk about the science behind knee valgus. First here’s a video from my good friend Dr. John Davidson:
A couple of points to note:
1. If the foot is stable, then we are pretty darn safe.
2. If there is no pain present, then there’s not a lot of concern especially in a strength athlete.
3. There is not one size fits all with a reference to Usain Bolt crossing midline with his knees.
Here’s my other buddy Dr. Zach Long getting detailed in an article:
A couple of points:
1. Adductor Mangus acts as a major hip extend or during ballistic movements.
2. The slight knee valgus present with high level weightlifters is probably a type of stretch reflex mechanism that fires the glutes creating more propulsion upwards.
3. Do you really think that Mattie Rogers has weak glutes? If so, we are all doomed.
I admit I added the “If so, we are all doomed” part, but it’s so trues. Athletes like December and Mattie Rogers are the strongest athletes in America. I promise that they can perform body weight squats without valgus. They can also jump and land without any valgus. The valgus present during their lifting has nothing to do with weakness. They are simply asking their bodies to be as humanly strong as possible, and their bodies are doing just that.
One last point, I am 44-years-old, and I have zero valgus present during any of my movements. Does that mean that my knees are unbreakable? No! I promise because my knees hurt a lot. My pain comes from lack of mobility. I can’t perform a knee valgus movement if I want to. That’s a real problem that no one talks about.
When you are working with high-level athletes, the goal is to be as strong as possible. If I see a weakness that might cause an injury, I will 100% address that weakness or asymmetry. Other than that, I am going to help them get strong and win medals.
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