Why A Hip Circle Won’t Fix Your Knee Cave
Whether it be in the squat or deadlift, a very common issue is that of knee valgus. The degree to which the knees may cave can vary, whether it be very slight or extreme. But the one thing I can tell you is that the common fix of throwing on a hip circle and doing endless abduction work is rarely, if ever, the fix. Weak abductors more times than not are not the issue, and a better understanding of how the internal versus external rotators work will show this. Above is @_hmcg, and what we can see specifically in the video on the left is the internal rotation that occurs when she breaks the floor. The typical cues you will see for this is to push the knees out more and maybe add some of that magical hip circle work in as a warmup, but I can tell you it won’t fix the issue. The reason being is that you cannot stop the adductors from doing their job. When someone forces themselves into overly externally rotating, by either going into a stance that is too wide for them or ducking their toes out too far, they are ignoring the fact that the adductors are a primer mover of hip extension within the squat and deadlift. So what you are seeing with Haley in the video on the left is not weak abductors, it is an over reliance on the abductors, and as she pulls and the adductors engage, they pull her slightly into internal rotation causing her knees to slightly cave. The fix was fairly simple and maybe not even noticeable at first, but we brought her stance in maybe a 1/2-1 inch on each side. And as you can see on the right, there is no caving at all. We just needed to put her into a position that allowed her to optimally use her internal and external rotators cohesively, rather than forcing herself into abduction. So my recommendation for those who struggle with knee valgus is rethink what the issue might be. If your current fix is to jam your knees out as far as you can during the squat and deadlift and doing endless hip circle work to no avail, weak abductors are probably not the issue. The issue is not a simple as weak glutes, but rather a list of possible positioning errors that lead to this unwanted movement. I am being careful not to give some specific “fix” for this, as its an issue that is too individual to truly address in a broad spectrum. The aforementioned issue for Haley is just one of many reasons knee cave may be occurring. Stance width, foot position, foot rooting, ankle mobility (this and rooting probably is the #1 cause), knee extensor vs hip extensor tensioning, differences in low bar vs high bar, and lateral shifts are just some of the reasons knee valgus may occur, but weak abductors and glutes is rarely one of them.