Knees over Toes, anyone doing this?

(Bob M) #1

So, with my training for my 5k, I have been having left knee problems. In the past, I went from jogging to biking, because I always got hurt jogging. Never got hurt biking. But biking takes too long – a 30 minute jog is challenging, but a 30 minute bike ride, once you’re used to biking, is nothing. I’d like to continue jogging.

I listened to two people who advocate an exercise regimen called “knees over toes” or KOT.

I thought this was interesting, so I bought their book:

I’ve been performing some of these exercises, and I really do think they help.

One thing discussed in the podcasts, but not the book, is walking backwards. This includes walking backwards on a treadmill that is off. You have to “push” against the resistance of the treadmill.

We have a treadmill in the building where I work. I walk backwards on the treadmill, then do the recommended exercises in the KOT book. I can only do about half (or less) of the recommended repetitions. But I do think it helps.

If you’re having any knee trouble, I highly recommend into at least looking at this.

I believe they have you tube channels where they show the exercises. I will likely go there too, as I have questions about a few of the exercises from the book and whether I’m doing them correctly.

(Joey) #2

@ctviggen Very interesting! Based on the photo and title, I’m assuming the idea is to exercise with one’s knees extending beyond one’s toes?

This intrigues me as I’ve been following the precise opposite guidance. When it comes to Tai Chi and Qi Kung standing exercises, there’s consistently strong advice that knees should never extend beyond one’s toes.

I’ve found this in numerous books and treatises on these topics and separately had heard that physical therapists offer similar guidance (i.e., to keep knees from extending beyond toes when holding any position for an extended time). Supposedly this has something to do with avoiding undue stress on critical tendons/connective tissues that will suffer over time.

Then again, when doing squats and similar exercises, it’s hard to perform without knees-over-toes, so it’s not like it should never happen. Perhaps it has something to do with holding the position for any length of time?

On a personal note, I had “clicking” knees when doing squats for many years. Was told it was tendon-related as the softer tissues “snapped” past bone, like a rubber band. Didn’t hurt - but was always unsettling to hear.

Now, having engaged in strength-training (including lower body) and more advanced standing/crouching leg exercises for quite some time, this “clicking” has essentially disappeared - at least for now. I’d chalked it up to building strength while avoiding knee-over-toe positions. Who knows? :man_shrugging:

(Bob M) #3

This is 100% the prevailing wisdom. Sound similar to what we’re doing? :wink:

You’d have to look at the actual exercises to see whether you think they are knees over toes. He advocates two sets of tibialis raises, which to me aren’t KOT. But other exercises he does are.

I think the idea is to strengthen and loosen (he has stretches too) that area.

(Joey) #4

Ah, sorry … as noted, I didn’t actually follow the links (or read the book), but based my reply on assumption from the photo and title of the material. Perhaps it’s intended to garner attention rather than literal advice to be followed?

(Central Florida Bob ) #5

I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone in my age group (ours? I’m 68) that cycles for exercise moved over from running because of worn out knees.

I haven’t really gone back to running since the late '00s, but from '94 through then, I’d cycle, jog, and do biathlons for my birthday. At one point in the early '90s, I had seen an orthopedic guy about my knees and I think he’s the guy who recommended this book:

There are some exercises in there that really helped me. The most helpful were isometric with a straight leg.

Now my most common problem was “runner’s knee” - chondromalacia patellae - and the exact problem is going to dictate what exercises help. Runner’s knee is largely caused by muscle imbalance in the thigh, and the reference to walking backwards on the treadmill that make me think those KOT exercises are addressing muscle imbalance issues.

(Bob M) #6

I think that’s correct. A lot of the exercises are to build up the muscles you use, but never exercise, like the tibialis:

And, of course, if you have pain while doing any exercise, you shouldn’t be doing it.

Edit: read the comments if you don’t think this works.

(BuckRimfire) #7

I’m lucky enough to live where there are lightly-traveled streets with steep hills several blocks long. I read or listened to some stuff by this guy last summer and my spousal critter and I tried walking backward up a hill for several blocks on a few occasions. Definitely feels like it has an effect that is different from other exercises.

Unfortunately, we haven’t done it often or methodically, mainly just due to mental carelessness.

(Central Florida Bob ) #8

It’s easiest to stick with something like this when it’s novel and it feels like it’s doing something for you. When it’s hard and feels awkward to do that reminds you to do it.

That goes for running, walking, cycling, weight training, you name it. The most seductive thought in the world is “missing one day won’t matter.” It’s true, too.

(Bacon is better) #9

Muscle sliding over muscle can make that same noise, I’ve been told. Stopped happening after I went keto, though, come to think of it.

(Bob M) #10

Just a quick post, as I’ve a ton of work today. I THINK what the KOT guy is saying is that if you get your knees over your toes (which you will do at some point), his exercises will make you stronger in that position.

And I personally don’t understand the animosity towards having your knees over your toes. Since the pandemic, I’ve done hundreds of these:



Now, I can’t get quite as low as they get, though I’m getting close.

But this seems like – gasp! – their knees are over their toes.

And I’ve gone from barely being able to do any of these, to doing 10-12 of the shrimps per side and 8 or so (on a block) per side of the pistol squats. No pain whatsoever.

And if I count squats, I started squatting when I was 15 or 16 and squat until my back gave out. I’ve done thousands, maybe 10s of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of squats. No knee pain.

For me, his program is quite a challenge, and I feel as if it’s really helping. Ran yesterday, had a minor amount of knee pain, did his workout today, no pain. Feel stronger.

If you think there’s no way in heck you’re getting your knee over your toes (which, by the way, most of his exercises do not do), then don’t do it.

If you have knee or hip pain, and want to try something that might help, try this.

(Bob M) #11

So, my wife thinks “over” actually means “beyond”. In other words, what is supposedly negative is that the knee goes beyond the edge of the toes.

If this is the correct interpretation, then KOT actually does this for at least a few of this exercises. My wife says that the KOT guy said the idea that the knees cannot extend past the toes has no evidence supporting it. It’s just something that’s been taught without any basis in fact.

I don’t remember hearing or reading this, but I rarely doubt what my wife says. (And that’s not because I’m her husband, but because she’s 99.9999% generally correct. In fact, even though I’m an engineer and she’s an English major, I value her opinion for any project we do, because I think way too complexly and she simplifies everything.)

(Robert) #12

You have something there :+1:! I’ve been practicing the “squat” for almost two years and can say it probably saved my back and legs. The squat necessarily has knees just over toes. I also do the lunge like position shown on y image w resistance bands to produce an almost perfect upper leg exercise. To make progress I found I had to work on core strength (abs, buttocks and sides) to avoid cramps and crunching up my lungs while squatting. My results took over a year for a moderate muscle build on my legs. Happy with that. Fyi I’m 59, if that even matters.