My Thoughts on Vertical Shin
By Vishwa on Health
June 27, 2017
My Thoughts on Vertical Shin
In a powerlifting squat, you try to sit back and keep your shins as vertical as possible. Strength trainers are also of the same view. The major benefit is that it is kinder on the knees. The vertical shin position is a rule written on stone in powerlifting. When the shin is almost in line with the knee the 90 degree angle is nearer. For example, in the box squat, maintaining that 90-degree angle is a necessity. If you cannot achieve that you are dead! Ha! No pun intended, but the importance thrown on this rule seems far stretched.
Contrarily, to activate the quadriceps the knee should travel ahead of the toe. The quadriceps are always at a disadvantage and patellar problems result from poor quadriceps activation. In a study titled Knee behavior in squatting J, Australia, it is clearly elucidated with 3D kinematics of the lower limb that indeed that the knees can travel ahead of the toes. 29 subjects from a cross sectional background of sports and strength training participated. Despite the literature there exists an inappropriate perception to restrict the knees by traveling ahead of the toes.
Also, in the book titled The Squat Bible, the author Aaron Horschig has an entire section explaining about the fallacy of the knee travelling ahead of the toes. He says “No one knows where this myth started.” Moreover, this beckons a question—is deep squatting safe on the knees? In a deep squat, ass to grass–ATG, the knees travel ahead of the toes. Aaron says, “For athletes with healthy knees, performing the squat to full depth should not cause injury as long as heavy loads are not used excessively. Proper training programs should employ light, medium, and heavy intensity cycles throughout the year in order to lessen any harmful effects of constant heavy loading. Now that you have a deeper understanding of full-depth squats, feel free to ass to the grass!”
He further states, “To lift the most amount of weight during the clean, a weightlifter must catch the barbell in a deep squat position. In order to remain upright with the bar secured on the chest, the knees of many lifters will move past their toes. Are these weightlifters putting their knees in harm’s way every time they lift the barbell?” Similarly, in an Olympic snatch and front squat your knees clearly travel ahead of the toes to maintain the center of gravity. These strength professionals then should end up with knee injuries. However, that’s not the case.
Endorsing Ulrik’s view
Is then keeping the shin vertical the only choice to squat? Contrarily, what happens in a sprint? Or when you climb down the stairs? Your knee is travelling ahead of the toes. However, Ulrik—the founder of rehab trainer and a renowned physiotherapist, Australia (http://www.rehabtrainer.com.au/) suggests that the knee can indeed travel ahead of the toes. In fact, biomechanically, the knees can move ahead. But it has to be a controlled and stabilized movement. In other words, it cannot be a jerky and snappy movement. On a personal note, I had this doubt from a very long time. However, most of us said to me that the vertical shin cue is THE RULE, but I continued to doubt this. However, when a man of Ulrik’s stature endorses the same view, it strengthened my belief.
Watch the video. You can see how the knees travel much ahead of the toes while the athlete squats deep and even when she is cleaning and pulling the weight.
Case study: Knee behavior in squatting J, Australia. Strength cond. 20(2) 23-36. 2012@ ASCA,