** Safety note – certain body types, medical conditions, and prior surgeries may be indicative of a reason not to perform a squat. If you are unsure, please contact a medical professional prior to trying to correct your squat form.**


It’s inevitable that at some point you will hear some fitness professional say, “You should never squat with your knees in front of your toes.”

From this point on- I want you to ignore that. Because if your knees don’t cross in front of your toes, then that motion isn’t a squat, it’s a deadlift. A true squat requires the knees to cross in front of the toes. This doesn’t give you permission to squat with your knees yards in front of your knee, it means that you should allow the knees to cross the toes in a controlled fashion.

There are several reasons for this: the first is that when the knees cross the toes, it uses the available ankle ROM to assist with pressure and weight distribution when squatting with a load. This motion also helps keep ankles mobile. Often, squat form is poor because of poor ankle mobility. Lack of ankle mobility can be caused by poor squatting mechanics, or can cause poor squatting mechanics. The weight shift forward also puts our glutes and quads slightly on stretch which primes them for action. (if you know anything about me, you know glutes are important). The weight shift also put the center of gravity directly over the ankles, which is much more advantageous to our systems and will allow us to move a great deal easier accessing the correct muscles.

Let’s look at a correct squat:





Several things stand out:

  1. Upright spine: no rounding of shoulders, excessive rounding or arching of the low back (rounding of the low back is asking for problems).
  2. The angle made from the foot to the shin is the same as the angle from the hips to the trunk. (This is a hallmark of a good squat).
  3. The knees don’t fall toward each other.
  4. The knees cross the toe. Please note, the knees are not 12 feet in front of the toe, they are 2-4” in front of the toe.
  5. Hips are deeper than the knees.



Now, let’s look at several incorrect squats:


bad bad bad squat

Yikes. Trunk angle. Knees don’t move, low back rounding.




No Knee movement, poor trunk angle; this is more of a deadlift.


bad bad squat

Injury waiting to happen.


Scary, right? Squats are an excellent way to increase hip and core activation and progress global strength. When done correctly, they create an excellent, stable base for proper shoulder, core, knee and ankle stability and mobility.


If you’re squatting, look at your form. If you don’t meet the 5 criteria from above, please find a physical therapist who can correct and progress this very important movement pattern!

*all photos pulled directly from a Google Image Search*


Chandler Physical Therapy is a family owned and operated Physical Therapy clinic in Chandler, Arizona. We treat active adults who are looking to keep themselves pain free and active through exercise and healthy living.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below and ask or, we have a Free Discovery Visit (Half Hour) that allows you to sit down, one on one with a therapist to discuss what you have going on to find out if physical therapy is a good fit for you. Check it out below:

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