The Limitations of Anterior Knee Displacement during Different Barbell Squat Techniques: A Comprehensive Review

J Clin Med. 2023 Apr 19;12(8):2955. doi: 10.3390/jcm12082955.


Based on seminal research from the 1970s and 1980s, the myth that the knees should only move as far anterior during the barbell squat until they vertically align with the tips of the feet in the sagittal plane still exists today. However, the role of both the hip joint and the lumbar spine, which are exposed to high peak torques during this deliberate restriction in range of motion, has remained largely unnoticed in the traditional literature. More recent anthropometric and biomechanical studies have found disparate results regarding anterior knee displacement during barbell squatting. For a large number of athletes, it may be favorable or even necessary to allow a certain degree of anterior knee displacement in order to achieve optimal training outcomes and minimize the biomechanical stress imparted on the lumbar spine and hip. Overall, restricting this natural movement is likely not an effective strategy for healthy trained individuals. With the exception of knee rehabilitation patients, the contemporary literature suggests it should not be practiced on a general basis.

Keywords: anterior knee translation; back squat; knee rehabilitation; restricted squat; unrestricted squat.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.