KNEE VALGUS: what is it, what causes it, how do we fix it?

The knee sustains quite a bit of injuries, especially among the athletic population.  One potential cause of this is Knee Valgus, or knee collapse, which occurs when the knee falls in towards the other knee as pictured here.

This can be pretty problematic as its been linked to ACL injuries and knee pain in runners (check it out here)
Now at first glance one could blame the knee itself, however the vast growing body of evidence associates excessive knee valgus to hip muscle weakness and more specifically to poor motor control and body awareness at the hip.  Therefore it is important to address hip impairments to benefit the knee's integrity as to promote injury prevention.  In fact you can see the following link confirms this importance (the effects of hip on knee pain)

Furthermore it is paramount for athletes, especially female athletes, to assess and improve their hip mechanics as to prevent knee valgus.  This can be done multiple ways, but a proven and reliable way  is to perform a drop landing from a box jump or step and assess visually or with a free slow motion analysis your knee positioning.  In a drop landing test, shock absorption occurs primary in the frontal plane (knee collapse in/out), which is a plane the knee has very little anatomical ROM.  This makes the knee extremely vulnerable to injury if deficiencies in frontal plane occur with landing.

Your just watching for that knee to pass the big toe or for any unsteadiness and or trunk lean.  You can see in the first pic that we have a confirmed valgus while the second pic shows the knee over the smaller toes which is optimal.
Now several exercises exist to improve this including the anti-valgus Single Leg hooked bridge which can be performed with a simple band or strap or even belt.
Instructions: The middle of the tubing is placed around the outside of knee (pulling your knee in ) while lying perpendicular to the attachment. Bring other knee up to your chest and hold it with your hands, Bend the other knee and place foot on the floor. Tighten your stomach and lift your hips up off the floor with weight being on your foot and your shoulders. Then slowly lower your hips down to the floor

Whats great about this exercise is as the band pulls you into valgus, the positions we don't want to be in, so your muscles and prevent this from happening.  Your body naturally reacts to the bad forces to retrain the muscle and brain to perform in the correct movement pattern. pretty cool right.

So try a drop landing, do about 20 reps on each side of the hooked bridge and retest your yourself.  See any improvements?  Any less pain?  Easier to land?

These movement assessments and corrective exercises along with several others will be addressed during our upcoming seminar, hope you can join us:

The Performance Through Movement Seminar is being held at Britt Fit Zone on Saturday, April 6th at 1:00pm.

Don't forget to sign up as soon as possible as space is limited to ensure a quality teacher-student ratio!