Whether it’s front, back, or overhead, for some, squatting can be a little intimidating. The fear of getting stuck in the bottom of the squat prevents some athletes from realizing their full squatting potential. But that’s no reason for your knees to knock. Knee buckle or “caving” is attributed to inactive and/or weak adductor muscles. This is a common problem for new squatters and affects athletes at the bottom of the squat.
Let’s take a look at the mechanical anatomy of the hip flexors. The ADductors (adductor medius, adductor brevis, gracilis, psoas) move the femur toward the midline, while the ABductors (glutes medius, gluteus minimus, TFL) move the femur away from the midline.
Actively (or inactively) allowing the knees to come in during the squat places more emphasis on the quads taking the adductors out of the movement. To counteract this, drive the knees out—actively push your knees out. Imagine spreading the floor with the outer edge of you feet. The objective is to keep the knees in line over the toes.
To strengthen the adductors and prevent the knees from buckling requires correct squatting mechanics. And you strengthen the adductors by keeping the knees out.
Band squats are a simple exercise you can perform to address this issue. To start, wrap a shorty (.5” x 12”) band around your knees, position your feet just outside your shoulders, and squat. As you descend into the squat, the contractual force created by the band will require you to force your knees out. Hold the bottom position of the squat for several seconds and repeat. This can be done during your daily warm-up or before your squat. Try starting out with three sets of 8-10 reps.
Try practicing the mechanics of this movement with light weight and watch your squat, and your confidence, go up.