The Fallacy of the Hip Hinge and the Function of the Patella
We’ve been squatting – perfectly at that – since we were babies, yet somewhere along the way in our weight lifting education we were taught not to let our toes go over our knees, and, as a result, we have lost the art of the perfect squat. At risk isn’t just the “perfect squat,” at risk is the integrity and health of our spine and back.
If you go to any gym and observe people squatting you will observe, for the most part, a significant forward lean of the torso as one attempts to maintain one's center of gravity within their base of support. This occurs because it is widely taught that one's knees should not bend past the toes when squatting.
The claim to this myth is from a Duke University study from 1978 that revealed a reduction in shearing potential of the knee occurred when the knee did not go past the toes in the squatting movement. By keeping the lower leg as vertical as possible, researchers believed such a movement was preserving the integrity of the knee. This theory – the idea that allowing the knees to move past the toes causes undue stress upon the patella and the ligaments of the knee – has been wildly maintained and still taught in many personal training certification courses. It continues being demonstrated in gyms across the country.