Understanding the influence of foot angle on the hip joints and lower back

feet position squatIt’s all very well to explain that you should keep your feet straight, and that there are correct positions and postures to adopt with your body during exercises, but this instructions become much more meaningful when you understand exactly why these positions should be adopted. The following test will help demonstrate, with your own body, the impact your foot angle has on your hip joints and lower back: Continue reading

Measuring sissy squats – a homemade platform

homemade sissy squat platformWe were delighted to receive a message from one of our readers recently who wished to show us a device he had created to keep track of his sissy squat progress. It’s a great demonstration of our principles, proactively developing your own training regime, for effective progression, while at the same time literally showing how you can benefit through DIY training. Mike Tassinari, seeing an opportunity to carefully monitor his training, produced this: 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

Don’t fold your arms: how to avoid hunched shoulders

folded arms bad ideaWith all the time we spend sitting hunched over computer screens these days, it is growing ever more common to find people who suffer from hunched forward shoulders. To correct this problem we need to employ some simple rules of thumb in our daily lives and practice a few special techniques in our upper body training. This article covers a simple and very effective rule you can implement in your daily lives immediately:

“Don’t fold your arms!” 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

Top 9 excuses for avoiding exercise – and why they don’t hold up

exercise excusesSometimes it’s hard to find motivation to exercise. It can seem like a chore, something that needs to be done rather than something you want to do. You want to see results, you don’t want to spend the time working on them. We’ve covered that attitude a few times – in our various articles on Motivation. But to help you understand why excuses don’t hold up, here’s our list of the top 9 excuses for avoiding exercise: Continue reading

The best strength exercises for healthy cyclist knees

cycling knees strengthEveryone uses their own body in different ways, and you’re likely to have concerns about exercises specific to your chosen sport, or everyday activities. We often receive requests for ideas for strength training that facilitates particular actions – such as considering your knees for cycling. To answer a recent Twitter request, here’s our top tips for strength training that will be the most beneficial to improving your performance with cycling: Continue reading

Is it ever a good idea to use an exercise mirror in training?

exercise mirror in trainingMirrors are a contentious area when it comes to training. Gyms are generally lined with them, and it’s difficult to avoid the temptation to watch yourself moving, to better understand your movements. Yet most articles and books on training the body to perform movements such as squats and presses are against the idea of using exercise mirrors to help you learn your technique.

This is generally because:

  • To have proper neuromuscular control and understanding of the exercise you need to “feel” the position of your body not “see” it.
  • A mirror can give misleading feedback, as it reflects images back differently depending on what angle you see them.
  • Looking into the mirror may encourage incorrect (and potentially unsafe) head and neck positioning for some exercises.
  • Mainstream health clubs use mirrors for aesthetics, not for health considerations.

We at KneeStrength agree with most of these points, but think it is unwise to dismiss the use of mirrors totally, as they do have some applications in particular circumstances. 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

How high demand for external hip rotation in squats creates a road to perfection

wide stance squatDoing squats with a heavy emphasis on external rotation can prove frustrating, but we encourage it for a number of reasons. Greater external rotation from your hips during the wide stanced squat supports your feet arches, creates a more stable position for the knees, allows a more vertical back angle and activates the glutes more. Beyond these physical benefits, it is also a great indicator of what you are doing wrong. I like to describe it as a squat technique which puts a magnifying glass on technical faults. The slightest errors get amplified significantly, not allowing you to get away with movements you might be able to with other techniques. And that’s a sure road to improvement. Continue reading