Sometimes it’s OK for “toes in“ squats

We hear from folks and also read on a lot of blogs and articles about whether your toes should be in or out for squats or other types of activities. The real answer is “it depends”.

What it depends on is the patient’s specific anatomy. That means we need to pay attention to knees and hips and things like femoral and tibial torsion‘s. It’s paramount to keep the knees in the sagittal plane, no matter what the lower extremity orientation is.

When somebody has external tibial torsion (i.e. when you drop a plumbline from there to view tuberosity it passes medial to the line between the second and third or second metatarsal) then having your feet and externally rotated position places the knees in sagittal plane. Having the patient go “toes in” with this type of anatomy will cause both knees to for medially and create patellofemoral tracking issues.

Likewise, like the patient in the video, (Yes, I know I say “external tibial torsion“ at the beginning of the video but the patient has internal tibial torsion as you will see from the remainder of the video) when somebody has internal tibial torsion (I.e. when you drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity it passes lateral to the second metatarsal or a line between the second and third metatarsal) you would need to point the toes inward to keep the knees in the sagittal plane as demonstrated in the video. You can also see in the video when her feet are placed “toes out“ they fall outside sagittal plane laterally which creates patellofemoral tracking issues like it was in this particular patient.

So, knees in or knees out? It depends…

Dr. Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#internaltibialtorsion #externaltibialtorsion #kneepain #kneesin #kneesout #squats #thegaitguys

All that creaks may not be pathological...

image source:

image source:

Gal with creaky knees? Patellar crepitus? Does all that noise mean something?

Well, it means that knee function is suboptimal and more than likely, there is abnormal patellar tracking. But is that clinically significant? The answer is ....maybe.

This study (1) looked at over 300 women, about 1/2 with patellofemoral pain and half without looking at the following outcomes: 

  • the knee crepitis test
  • anterior knee pain scale
  • self reported knee pain in the last month
  • knee pain after 10 squats 
  • knee pain after climbing 10 stairs

They found that if you had patello femoral pain, you were 4 times more likely to have crepitus than not, but there was no correlation of crepitus with  Knee crepitus had no relationship with function, physical activity level , worst pain, pain climbing stairs or pain squatting. 

We would have loved to have seen any correlation in this group with knee valgus angles (i.e. "Q" angles 2 ) and how much tibial or femoral torsion was present (as these things change pressure and contact area 3), but that will hopefully be found in the literature elsewhere. 


1. , Pazzinatto MFPriore LBDFerreira ASBriani RVFerrari DBazett-Jones DAzevedo FM. Knee crepitus is prevalent in women with patellofemoral pain, but is not related with function, physical activity and pain. Phys Ther Sport. 2018 Sep;33:7-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2018.06.002. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

2. Emami MJ1, Ghahramani MHAbdinejad FNamazi H. Q-angle: an invaluable parameter for evaluation of anterior knee pain. Arch Iran Med. 2007 Jan;10(1):24-6.

3. Thay Q. Lee, PhD, Garrett Morris, BS, Rick P. Csintalan, MDThe Influence of Tibial and Femoral Rotation on Patellofemoral Contact Area and Pressure Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2003;33:686-693.


Genu valgum in kids: What you need to know

We have all seen this. The kid with the awful “knock knees”.  It is a Latin word “which means “bent” or “knock kneed”. It appears to have 1st been used in 1884.

This condition, where the Q angle angle exceeds 15 degrees, usually presents maximally at age 3 and should resolve by age 9. It is usually physiologic in development due to obliquity of the femur, when the medial condyle is lower than the lateral. Normal development and weight bearing lead to an overgrowth of the medial condyle of the femur. This, combined with varying development of the medial and lateral epiphysies of the tibial plateau leads to the valgus development. Gradually, with increased weight bearing, the lateral femoral condyle (and thus the tibial epiphysis) bear more weight and this appears to slow, and eventually reverse the valgum.

Normal knee angulation usually progresses from 10-15 degrees varus at birth to a maximal valgus angle of 10-15 degrees  at 3-3.5 years (see picture).  The valgus usually decreases to an adult angle of 5-7 degrees.  Remember that in women, the Q angle should be less than 22 degrees with the knee in extension and in men, less than 18 degrees. It is measured by measuring the angle between the line drawn from the ASIS to the center of the patella and one from the center of the patella through the tibial tuberosty, while the leg is extended.

Further evaluation of a child is probably indicated if:

  • The angle is greater than 2 standard devaitions for their age (see chart) 
  • If their height is > 25th percentile 
  • If it is increasing in severity 
  • If it is developing asymmetrically

Management is by serial measurement of the intermalleolar distance (the distance between ankles when the child’s knee are placed together) to document gradual spontaneous resolution (hopefully). If physiologic genu valgum persists beyond 7-8 years of age, an orthopaedic referral would be indicated but certainly intervention with attempts at corrective exercises and gait therapy should be employed. Persistence in the adult can cause a myriad of gait, foot, patello femoral and hip disorders, and that is the topic on another post.

Promotion of good foot biomechanics through the use of minimally supportive shoes, encouraging walking on sand (time to take that trip to the beach!), walking on uneven surfaces (like rocks, dirt and gravel), gentle massage (to promote muscle facilitation for those muscles which test weak (origin/insertion work) and circulation), gait therapeutic exercises and acupuncture when indicated, can all be helpful.

Ivo and Shawn…  The Gait Guys…Promoting foot and gait literacy for everyone.