Squats: Toes Forward or Toes Out?

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Page:  1 Next »
Print

There is no question that squatting is fundamental for any athlete or healthy person in general. But as we each strive to squat well and with better overall body position (Remember? You used to do that when you were a toddler), the question of a proper squat foot angle becomes an important performance point to address… thoughtfully, as always.

Toes Forward Creates Torque

Did you know? If you can’t watch MobilityWOD at the box, hang up these helpful mWOD posters as a resource.
If you’ve been keeping up with MobilityWOD on a regular basis, you may have seen the episode below, in which Kelly Starrett addresses squatting with the feet turned out. Here K-Starr talks about foot position and its effect on an athlete’s ability to keep his/her knees out. By turning your feet out past a certain angle, the athlete loses the ability to create torque through external rotation of the hips. He demonstrates this with his athlete, Oly lifting coach Diane Fu:
By losing the ability to generate this torque, the knees are more vulnerable to “the valgus forces created by the body.” K-Starr goes into this subject more in depth in this episode of MobilityWOD:
So the take-home message from these videos is that one should aim for squatting with toes forward instead of toes out. But how does this general rule apply to athletes who don’t currently have the required hip or ankle mobility to perform such a squat? Below are some thoughts by Justin Lascek from 70′s Big.

Cuing Athletes Properly

If you don’t currently have the mobility to do so, then no, you shouldn’t try to alter your toe angle.
In this brief video, Justin discusses the perils of forcing an athlete to squat with toes forward when s/he lacks the mobility to do so, as well as allowing an athlete to go to the opposite extreme with toes pointed out too wide: both of these will only reinforce poor mechanics.

Should I point my toes forward?

Prematurely adjusting to a “forward toe angle” stance could have a range of negative consequences… Instead, develop your trainee so that they are able to handle the new mobility demands by improving their mobility over time.
The answer, as always, depends on the individual. If you don’t currently have the mobility to do so, then no, you shouldn’t try to alter your toe angle. If a person with “poor” mobility — in that they don’t have the capability to achieve proper positioning with the toes angled more forward of their current toe angle — attempts to squat this way, then at best they will facilitate poor mechanics and at worst could experience an injury. The poor mechanics could simply result in the inside of the foot being lifted from the ground, thus reducing the stability and force applied at the foot. The potential injury could be due to undue torsion at the knee if the ankles, knees, hips, and everything in between don’t have acceptable mobility. The message should be clear: don’t jump into it if you lack the mobility.

A corollary is to not cue someone to put their toes forward when they lack the necessary mobility. If you don’t know if they have the mobility, then reconsider your role or job as their coach. If you accept the consequences in the previous paragraph, then prematurely adjusting to a “forward toe angle” stance could have a range of negative consequences. Don’t blindly cue because you read something on the internet. Instead, develop your trainee so that they are able to handle the new mobility demands by improving their mobility over time….

Regardless of squat technique, the excessive outward angle of the toes limits the force distribution across the thighs and usually focuses the majority of the force on a single area.
The contrast to the above coaching sentiment is that you shouldn’t cue excessively wide toe angles either…. A wide stance facilitates navicular drop (AKA dropping the foot arch), a position that results in the knee shifting medially and results in undue stress on the medial aspect of the knee — even with the knees shoved out. Excessive outward toe angles (those closer to 45 degrees) also make it hard to sit back with the hips properly in a low bar squat; this reduces tension on the hamstrings and places a lot of stress on the adductors (which would obviously result in lots of groin soreness). In the high bar, clean, or snatch, excessive outward toe angle typically results in a lot of torsion on the knee’s connective tissue (since the knees will typically track inward on the ascent) and places the majority of the stress on the medial knee extensors. This may be fine or desirable for competitive weightlifters, but not for general strength or fitness trainees. Regardless of squat technique, the excessive outward angle of the toes limits the force distribution across the thighs and usually focuses the majority of the force on a single area.

Printable Version
Page 1 2 Next »

Looking for a competition near you? Having an event?
Check out our new Event Calendar!

Our event calendar lets you create your own event listing for any type of event - throwdown, adventure race, seminar, you name it. For free. In 2 minutes. It's as easy as writing a Facebook post. And you can embed the calendar right on your website.
Try it today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Most Popular of All Time

Advertise Here
Advertise Here

CrossFit WV shared an image on Facebook

JJ gets a bar muscle on his last day at crossfit wv!!!

CrossFit Rife posted on Facebook

*****reminder there are no 6 or 7pm classes this evening. Please plan accordingly.

CrossFit RVA shared a link on Facebook

WOD 4/10/14 - http://www.crossfitrva.com/2014/04/10/wod-41014/

CrossFit RVA posted an article
CrossFit RVA shared a link on Facebook

RVA Fit 4/10/14 - http://www.crossfitrva.com/2014/04/10/rva-fit-41014/

CrossFit RVA posted an article
cfwhrob published the post 4 Common Kettlebell Swing Errors Made by CrossFitters on Tabata Times
The kettlebell is a common tool in the CrossFit arsenal. Every box has a collection of them, and I...
Patriot CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

CF Teens Spring Break Schedule Mon 4/14- preteens @ 5:30pm, teens @ 6:15pm Weds 4/16- teens @ 6:15pm NO class T/Th! CF Kids class this Sunday 4/13 12pm at Patriot! Hang Snatch 2-2-2-2-2 4 Rounds 10 HSPU 15 Box Jump (24/20) 2 Rope …

North End CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

http://northendcrossfit.com/?p=2118

North End CrossFit posted an article
Ballston CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Compound CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Chesapeake shared an image on Facebook

A great night with the CrossFit Chesapeake Kids!! Rowing, tire drags, and burpees, oh my!!

CrossFit Chesapeake posted an article
CrossFit Rosslyn posted an article
Brickhouse CrossFit posted on Facebook

Don't forget about Yobility at 6am tomorrow morning with a Coach Alicia!

CrossFit Old Town shared a link on Facebook

Patriot CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Everyone is invited to join PCFer ML Gilbride's family and friends in a celebration of her life and legacy by participating in a CrossFit WOD in her honor. All are welcome to participate, spectate, or just come out to honor our friend. Registration link and details below. http://www.active.com/event_detail.cfm?event_id=2128714

CrossFit WV shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Falls Church shared an image on Facebook

Strong work today

CrossFit Woodbridge posted an article
CrossFit Woodbridge posted an article
CrossFit Rosslyn shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit Fairfax shared a link on Facebook

5 rounds for time: • 5 Pistols Right leg • 5 Pistols Left leg • 5 Deadlifts 275#/185# • 10 T2B

CrossFit Reston shared a link on Facebook

5 rounds for time: • 5 Pistols Right leg • 5 Pistols Left leg • 5 Deadlifts 275#/185# • 10 T2B

CrossFit Arlington posted an article
Patriot CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit West Springfield posted an article
shortz published the post Is it time to pay judges? on
Is it time to pay judges? CrossFit and CrossFit Competition is big business. There is a lot of...
CrossFit Chronic posted an article
CrossFit Rubicon posted an article
CrossFit Falls Church shared an image on Facebook

Max and Texas working hard this afternoon...

Ballston CrossFit posted on Facebook

New website is live!! Featuring many of our members. What do you think?

Brickhouse CrossFit posted on Facebook

Congratulations to Brickhouse athlete Sean O'Brien and his wife Angela on the arrival of their healthy baby boy William Cooper O'Brien!

Brickhouse CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Coach Neal Jamison says an "aerobic finisher" does the body good. What exactly is he talking about?

CrossFit West Springfield posted an article
North End CrossFit posted on Facebook

FREE COMMUNITY CLASSES!!! Saturdays at 10am are now open to our local Community and our NECF Friends and Family! Been wanting to try Crossfit, but been to nervous?!?! Come as a guest to NECF for a great beginner style workout. Coaches will be there to welcome and instruct you through basic Crossfit movements to keep you safe and efficient while you work. Current members are welcome as long as they bring a guest:) We hope this will be a great opportunity for more of our neighbors to get involved and see how NECF and being a part of our family can greatly improve health and daily life. Look forward to seeing you soon!

CrossFit Old Town shared an image on Facebook

RunningBrooke hitting the WOD with Team 0915!

CrossFit RVA shared a link on Facebook

Last chance to sign up for the mobility and recovery seminar with Svetlana and Brian! You are not going to want to miss out on this!

CrossFit South Arlington shared an image on Facebook

Benchmark week.

CrossFit Arlington shared a link on Facebook

Scores for the WOD "Squat Jumps, Pull Ups and HSPU" on Friday April 4 have been posted

CrossFit Annandale shared a link on Facebook

Sometimes your PR might not seem so awesome compared to big-time CrossFitters, but remember that you are probably stronger than almost everyone you know! Check out this article for some numbers to shoot for at different levels.

Fentress CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

SPRING BREAK IS NEXT WEEK....The only schedule change we will have is....THERE ARE NO 11AM CLASSES ON MON, WED AND FRIDAY! All other classes are ON!

CrossFit Advance shared an image on Facebook

AM all finished... What could the wod(s) be?

CrossFit Fairfax shared an image on Facebook

Happy Birthday today to Keya!! Enjoy your special day you beautiful BEAST!!

Brickhouse CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Congratulations to Brickhouse Athlete Chassity Martin for her feature on the CrossFit Games website!

Patriot CrossFit posted on Facebook

Effective Monday, April 28th, Potomac will no longer be offering a 7:15pm Class.

Outlaw CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Yoga for Outlaws http://wp.me/p1bPVX-1po

Ballston CrossFit posted on Facebook

BCF - we are expecting our new and improved website to launch today! We may have some downtime during the transition and Thurs WOD may be delayed in being posted.

CrossFit Advance posted on Facebook

Meghan, our new in house sports massage therapist will be in tonight from 5-9. If you are feeling sore, need a little recovery or just want to treat yourself be sure to see her. It's a game a changer!!!

Outlaw CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Outlaws, we are happy to announce a new specialty class we will be offering on Thursdays and Sundays! Check out the flyer below for more info on Yoga for Outlaws! Thursday classes start April 24th and Sunday classes start April 27th.

CrossFit RVA shared an image on Facebook

Deadline for orders is 1pm today! If you haven't tried them, fED meals are a great way to begin improving your diet and getting the most out of your hard work in the gym.

CrossFit Chronic shared an image on Facebook

Download this free app CFC peeps. You're gonna need it today :)

CrossFit Chronic shared an image on Facebook

Ugh, I am a day late, but yay for more birthday wishes. CFC wishes this longtime, dedicated, strong, and beautiful gal a Happy (day late) Birthday! Happy Birthday Teresa!

CrossFit Chronic shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit Full Circle shared an image on Facebook

Reppin that Tribe

CrossFit Advance shared an image on Facebook

6am just completed the day 3 blackout wod, what is it though?

CrossFit Rosslyn shared an image on Facebook

Brickhouse CrossFit posted on Facebook

TODAY'S WOD: “Nasty Girls” 3 RFT 50 Air Squats, 7 Muscle Ups, 10 Hang Power Clean (135 / 95). Post experience to comments!

Fentress CrossFit posted on Facebook

Wednesday's Programming: Strength: Dead Lift Warm Up 10x Empty Bar 10x 20% of 1RM 10x 50% of 1RM Strength 3x5 85-90% of 1RM 3xMax Strict Pull-Ups (In between Sets of Dead Lifts) THEN WOD: 5 Rounds 400m run 10 Thrusters 95/65

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV