What is a valgus knee?
Valgus knee, also known as knock-knees, is a deformity of the lower leg. It is more prevalent in women because of the way their pelvis is structured. In order to be able to give birth, women have a wider pelvis. This affects the way the femur (thigh bone) sits on the tibia, creating more of an angle. The increased angle of the femur combined with weak pelvic stability and poor muscle activation leading to a valgus knee deformity. This condition puts a lot of pressure and stress to the medial aspect of the knee joint. In the long run, it can create pain, arthritic conditions, compensatory mechanisms and increased risk for ligament sprain and meniscus injury. It is more obvious is some people than others. In some, you can notice it just by looking at them standing, and in others you have to assess their movement pattern and have them to do a squat per example. If you feel concerned by the valgus knee deformity or have noticed your knees going inwards while doing your squats, here are 3 excellent exercises to stabilize your pelvis and activate the proper muscles:
- Miniband lateral walks: Take an elastic band and put it around your knees, above the knee caps, bend the knees slightly and push them outwards to get into a quarter squat position. Do about 10 steps to the right and 10 steps to the left. Keep on repeating the exercise until you feel a decent burning sensation in your lateral hip muscles. This will activate the gluteus medius muscle, which is an important pelvic stabilizer.
- Miniband squats: Put a miniband around your knees, just above the knee caps and go down into a squat. Repeat this 10-12 times. This will wake up the muscles from your hip and pelvis so they can pull the femur in a proper angle, thus preventing the knees to go inwards.
- Anti-valgus correction with elastic: Place an elastic band around one knee pulling it inwards (…yes, pulling the knee into more of a valgus). Then lunge down while pushing your knee outward against the elastic. Repeat 10-12 times per leg. If one knee tends to go inwards more than the other, just do more reps and sets for this one leg!
These exercises can be worked every day or you can incorporate them to your warm up routine before your workout or physical activity.