Knee Valgus is a fancy anatomical term that means your knee is displaced inwards or towards your midline. It is most obvious when you bend it in motions like squatting, running, or cycling. Not sure whether you are prone to knee valgus? Face a mirror and do a squat. Be sure to keep your heels on the ground and descend as far as you safely can. Better yet, watch your knees when you squat in exercise classes like HI2T – especially as you fatigue. If your knee tracks inside of your second toe, you have “knee valgus”. Check out this picture if you need clarification.
So why does knee valgus matter? Over the long run, the asymmetrical strain put on the joint can wear away certain tissues resulting in issues like meniscal tears or even joint degeneration. The “knock-kneed” position puts the joint in a vulnerable position for injuries like ACL tears. Finally, knee valgus can mean you are not using one of your biggest muscle groups- your glutes – and your performance may be suffering for it!
The position can be symptomatic of a number of deficits, which can make identifying your problem difficult. Knee Valgus can be the result of inactive/weak gluteals, tight IT bands, collapsed arches, etc. The one thing you can be sure of, however, is that if you default to knee valgus, something isn’t right. So if you think your knees are prone to valgus, get with a good therapist or coach. Getting your knees to track properly will prevent injury, improve athletic performance, and ultimately help you be happier with your body.
By Emile Hughes, The Aspen Club Sports Medicine Institute