Our series on solving knee problems continues with Kelly Starrett telling participants at a one day seminar at CrossFit Santa Cruz on March 14, 2009 that he first time an athlete engages the hamstring when squatting is an ‘aha!’ moment and “lights go off for them.” Starrett is the owner of San Francisco CrossFit and a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
If the tibia goes forward in a squat, joint forces across the meniscus will not be in perfect rotation. There will be compression and shear. Over time, this may result in a meniscus tear. “You set yourself up for that meniscus tear with your crappy squat,” Starrett says. To avoid injury, ensure the tibia is vertical, or least under control.
It’s also important to ensure athletes land properly with a definite “the buck stops here” end to the movement. The butt and hamstring should be engaged. Otherwise, athletes may put their knee forward and twist. Coaches should watch for a toe to heel to hamstring sequence.
Coaches should also harp on proper squat mechanics and repeating the “get the shin back” cue. Athletes need to have a good reason to put the knees forward. A good answer from an athlete might be that his knees were forward to keep his torso upright, but his hamstring was engaged.