Improve Your Bad Knees Right Now!
Life with knee pain is not nice.
We’ve all heard the pervasive myth that knees should never pass the toes when training. Yet new evidence and training methods demonstrate that the knees can adapt to and be strengthened during exercises such as squats or lunges. This advice is often given by personal trainers or physiotherapists who lack proper knowledge, overly enthusiastic gym-goers, or fitness trainers on social media who promote 90˚ joint angles as the only safe and effective way to train.
Knees-over-toes style training has become popular partly due to trainer Ben Patrick, also known as the “Knees over Toes Guy” (KOTG). Patrick has demonstrated that deep knee flexion can be part of a safe and effective strength training program, and brought it to a wide audience.
He states that every foundational athletic movement — running, jumping, lunging, squatting — requires placing your knee over your toes. And the only way to improve those movements and minimize knee pain is to force the knee over the toe and train the knee joint at the absolute extreme of its range of motion.
Although some of his exercises may seem daunting, he has regressions designed to accommodate any age and fitness level. So these exercises can help you strengthen your muscles, tendons, and fix common knee problems such as patellar tendonitis, ACL tears, and arthritis.
With progressive, intelligent exposure gradually built up, the body usually adapts to stressors with tissue capacity and tolerance. However, it’s important to start slow, with partial ranges of motion, very strict and light. This the best way to relieve symptoms and begin progressing back towards full function.
I have included some video demonstrations in this article that will help you perform the most common versions of his exercises, as well as some others I employ with clients. Most show modified versions to start with.
The ATG Split Squat
The ATG split squat is an exercise that targets the muscles, tendons, and ligaments related to the knee and ankles. It increases blood flow to the knee, leading to faster recovery and healthier knees. The exercise also takes your muscles and joints through a large range of motion that can help alleviate stiffness while improving joint stability. Additionally, it strengthens leg drive and improves mobility, with benefits such as:
Improved ankle mobility
Improved knee stability
Reduced knee pain caused by tight muscles
Reverse Nordic Curl w/Progressions
The reverse nordic curl is an exercise that involves lowering your body to the ground (in reverse) while keeping your ankles fixed and your knees straight. Some of the benefits of this exercise are:
It works all four of the quadriceps muscles
It improves hip flexor and quadriceps mobility
It improves knee pain
It helps reduce injury risk and low-back pain