How CrossFit Is Ruining Your Knees

Posted by on Jan 27, 2011 in Care for your body | Comments Off on How CrossFit Is Ruining Your Knees


It’s an epidemic across the entire CrossFit community. There are too many people out there that can’t squat for shit. There are a myriad of reasons why you don’t squat well, but the first and foremost reason is you aren’t strong enough to do it right. You have weak hamstrings, glutes, abductors and adductors. Everyone relies on the strength of their quads. What you get is a stance that is too wide, feet that are toed too far out, and the real killer: knees that track in rather than track over the feet. The lack of strength also causes many to relax at the bottom of the squat. The butt practically touches the heels and then the person tries to bounce out of the bottom of the squat. What’s makes all of this even worse is you take a weak squat, and then you try and load it up. Thrusters, front squats, overhead squats, wall balls….they all load up the squat movement. Squat poorly and your knees are taking a brutal beating.

The thing I see the most in a squat is the knees tracking inside the feet. It’s easy to spot because it usually leads to the heels rising off the floor. Next time you are at the gym, watch for it. You will see it all around you. You need to learn to keep the knees tracking over the feet. There are some simple drills to work on this technique. Squatting to a box is one of my favorites in getting people to squat more efficiently. Its a simple drill and with some good tactical coaching, works quite well in getting people to realize just how weak their lower body is and how poor their squat mechanics are. Just set up a box to squat height or even a little higher. Practice squating to a completely relaxed seated position. Keep the heels on the floor and the knees tracking over the feet during the entire movement. After you relax in the seated position for a second or two, try and stand up out of the squat without rocking forward. Eventually, you can do this with a bar on your shoulders or even a medicine ball in your hands. It is a drill, not a CrossFit workout. Do the movement slow and concentrate on moving well. I’ll try and get a video demo up ASAP.

The second thing you can do to protect your knees if you squat poorly is to stop trying to do workouts “as RX’d.” Learn to take some baby steps and check your damn ego at the door. I keep telling you that no one in the entire gym but you gives a shit if you do a workout as prescribed or not. What really matters is that you move well. Wouldn’t you much rather have people talking about you saying, “watch this guy/gal’s movement, its beautiful!” rather than “wow, he finished that workout fast”?? You come to the gym to get healthier. If ten years from now your knees ache all the time and it hurts to walk up the stairs, how is that healthy??? If you can learn to move well with a lighter load, you will get much stronger and much faster much sooner.

Look at the names on Wall of Fame board. People like Chong, Chris Stroud, and Maria are fast because they move well. They don’t do thrusters on the balls of their feet. They don’t do air squats with their knees tracking in. Watch them when they are training. You can learn a lot.

I leave you with a picture of a good squat. If anything, just get into a squat position and try to emulate Jolie’s knees and feet in the photo. I don’t even care if your chest is forward too much for now. Hit me up in the gym. I will give you some simple drills to fix your squat and save your knees…… Squat