7 common questions about sissy squats answered

sissy squat formPowerful as they are, sissy squats are an exercise that is new and unfamiliar to most people, as it has a specialist focus. We receive a lot of questions about perfecting sissy squats form, both online and in person, so here’s our attempt to cover some of them – to make sure your sissy squat form is as good as possible to rectify your patella maltracking. Continue reading

What’s so great about gaining control of your big toe?

big toe calf raiseGaining good motor control and strength in relation to the ball of the foot and the big toe (AKA the great toe) might seem like a trivial matter but it could be the missing link you’re looking for to take your squatting or running performance to the next level. This article will help you make some considerations for your big toe that could change the way you exercise. Continue reading

Can you do sissy squats and calf stretches barefoot?

barefoot sissy squat calf stretchFootwear in various exercises has been a frequent topic of discussion recently at KneeStrength.com. As demonstrated in our article on barefoot running, we are in favour of people learning how to move and exercise barefoot and reduce reliance on shoes with heels and thick shock absorption. However, as we saw in last week’s discussion of the right type of shoe for training, different exercises call for different considerations. For something seemingly simple like calf stretches and sissy squats, you may ask if it is necessary to wear shoes. Here’s our thoughts: Continue reading

Is barefoot running good for you?

is barefoot running good for youBarefoot running, either literally running barefoot or using shoes with minimal cushioning, is very popular, but highly contested. Almost everyone seems to have an opinion about it, and it raises a frequent question from our readers, “Is barefoot running good for you?” Personally, I like barefoot running, but some of the roads and sidewalks around me are constructed using very jagged concrete, so I use barefoot running shoes which have zero cushioning but a protective tread to protect the skin. But just because I like barefoot running doesn’t necessarily mean it is suitable for people in various stages of curing knee injuries. So I’m going to take a moment to explain in full both why I like it, and what it means for your health. Continue reading

How to massage hamstrings – does foam rolling work?

hamstring massage

For rolling away muscle tightness in your quads, the foam roller is a tried and tested tool, but when it comes to the hamstrings, the foam roller is less effective. Let’s take look at why this is, and what we can do to improve the tissue quality of our hamstrings in place of foam rolling. Continue reading

Why you need to learn to squat before you run

running knee supportEach year I volunteer to marshal a 10 kilometre cross-country fun run which is put on as a fundraiser for a local school. I always really enjoy the event as it an opportunity to observe how a large sample of people move. The runners at the front of the field move incredibly well; making the motions appear fluid and efficient with no wasted effort. It comes as no surprise to me that the further down the field you get, the more knee supports you see being worn by the runners and the more difficult and painful the effort of running appears to be.

This year I decided I would keep a mental note of the proportion of those runners wearing knee supports who exhibited out-turned feet as they ran. It wasn’t difficult for me to remember the proportion because it turned out to be 100%. Continue reading

What to do when you’ve got one leg stronger than the other

one leg strongerWhen you have one leg that is stronger than the other, it will impact the form you use during your exercises. This can reinforce muscle imbalances, as the stronger leg takes over the exercise and it becomes difficult to handle the load through your weaker leg. There’s one simple way to overcome this balance, but it requires taking care and focus. Simply put: slow down. Continue reading

Does a wide ‘split-the-floor’ squat stance really strain your hips?

wide squat hip strainFollowing on from the account of my experiences of the wide-stance squat, to maximise external rotation, let’s address the feeling of strain that a wide-stance can produce. Many people get scared off from the exercise – people have injured themselves doing it, which gives others an excuse to shy from an exercise that requires effort. But it’s very important that you recognise the difference between the effort required by the style, placing a large demand on the hips, and the idea that the “strain” demanded by the hips could be damaging. Done correctly, the pressure you feel is not harmful. You just have to be sure you are doing it right. Continue reading

Why people should give their muscle health as much attention as their teeth

teeth and muscles

Our culture encourages certain activities as a force of habit, because they are fundamentally good for us. Brushing your teeth regularly, for example, is drilled into children to the degree that even the most resistant amongst us will be instinctively aware that to go without brushing your teeth for a day or two is bad. We all know that brushing your teeth can prevent terrible consequences. The same should be understood of exercise, and strength/movement training, as we teach it here are KneeStrength, and we want to make it clear that your physical health is as much in your hands as dental care is. Continue reading

Why it’s a bad idea to use aids and supports in exercise

bad supports in exerciseSupports can help make exercises easier to perform, encourage people to do more exercise and boost your confidence. But they don’t help your body move properly, they ingrain a crutch in your movements that you should be working to avoid.

There are many types of different supports such as using insoles in a shoe, or wearing an elastic support for your knees. The idea behind insoles is that they makes it easier to maintain an arch in your foot so they effectively do the job of your hip rotation for you. And if something is replacing the job your body should be doing, your body isn’t learning to do it effectively itself. In a case like this, the hips rely on these aids and do not get stronger. See this article about fallen arches for an explanation of how you should be training your hips to create the arches in your feet.

For those who have become reliant on supports, we recommend you implement a “phased reduction” of your use of these aids. If you rely on aids during everyday life, like insoles, try taking them out during squats. Then stop using them for incrementally longer periods in the day. Gradually remove them from your life. In this case, as long as you continually practice external rotation from your hips, you will be fine.