I wrote a post and filmed a video explaining “Hip torque, toe angle, and squatting” to explain why a more forward toe angle in the squat was beneficial. It helps distribute force across the front and back of the thighs more efficiently which results in more muscular applying force to aid the movement. I followed this with another post and video titled “Should I point my toes forward?” The TL;DR on this second post was, “If you do not have the mobility to point the toes forward, then don’t do it.”
Not only are there people squatting with their toes forward — when I deliberately told them not to do so — these same people are getting tweaks in their knee and don’t know why. The sum of the “why?” is that they don’t have the mobility to do it and aren’t listening to Justin.
This is a public service announcement saying, again: Do not point your toes forward unless you have the mobility to do it. I created the following video that explains what occurs anatomically to cause a strain or tweak in the knee if someone ignores this advice. I also provide a method to quantify the amount of mobility a person should have before pointing their toes forward on a loaded squat (hint: it’s doing the “paleo” squat barefoot, toes forward, and knees out without pain or falling over). I also provide some “mobs”, specifically soft tissue work, that can help relieve tension in that area to improve the mobility to eventually shift the toes more forward. It would have been to difficult to explain this stuff via text, and a video is much easier. I’ve split the video into two parts, because the anatomical portion is a bit long by necessity.
Note that the popliteus gets strained because it isn’t extensible enough to handle the torque associated with the toes forward position. Also note that repetitive stress on the back of the knee from road marching, rucking, hiking, or high frequency or volume CrossFit movements can beat the structure down. If you try and apply torque on a crusty structure that is in a recovery deficit, then this is another reason why tweaks can occur on the back or side of the knee when doing knees forward squatting. If the structure is beat up, then give it more days of rest than you usually would before returning to squatting.
Will everyone be able to squat with a toe angle of right outside of forward? No. Can most people improve their mobility to move their toe angle a little bit in from where it is now? Probably. Watch the videos and learn the reasoning that explains why shifting them forward too soon can result in a strain the popliteus (on the back or outside of the knee). This next video provides