Dynamic Knee Valgus
Updated: Mar 6, 2020
A few months ago, I was given an evaluation for my group fitness instructing, and one of the most indelible pieces of feedback I received had to do with my muscular imbalances, specifically, knee valgus. Otherwise known as 'medial knee collapse,' knee valgus occurs when the knee moves inwardly towards the opposite limb in hip flexion. Now, this type of compensation isn't fairly uncommon, and is especially apparent when doing dead lifts, lunges, and squats.
When I first heard this comment, my mind immediately panicked. If my knee was moving medially, that must surely be a recipe for a knee or ACL injury down the road! What I learned was: in most circumstances, this alteration will not lead to injury. This was, however, a wake-up call as an instructor to pay more attention to my lower extremity alignment. If I was instructing others on proper form and technique, than it was my job to be as aligned as possible when it came to muscular balances and joint congruency.
When your knee moves medially, it usually means that your adductor muscles (inner thigh), calve, and TFL muscle (hip abductor muscle) are overactive, while your gluteus medius/maximus muscles are underactive (lengthened). I'll be discussing foam rolling in a separate post, but by massaging these muscles and releasing the adhesions within my joints, I noticed a considerable difference in the quality and depth of my squats and lunges.
Foam rolling on a daily basis also allowed me to tap into the neuromuscular response in my lower body. When I teach classes, I now consciously focus on specifically my lower body alignment and keeping my knees in line with my toes. At first, it did feel a bit different than what I was used to, but I also knew I was doing my body a huge service in injury prevention.
That comment turned out to be one of the best things that's happened in my fitness career because it inspired me to take action. A greater emphasis on my lower body has even impacted the way I walk, my pelvic positioning, and hip symmetry.