Below are a couple photos of NFL Quarterback Robert Griffin III performing a vertical jump in a Subway commercial as well as performing another vertical jump during the NFL Combine. In both of these cases, there is a clear and obvious movement dysfunction, valgus knee (knee-knocking).
As most know, this valgus knee collapse is extremely important to correct due to the potential injuries that can come from this position. This valgus knee position can lead to patella-femoral (knee) pain, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), as well as iliotibial band syndrome to name a few. Simply put, not correcting this movement dysfunction can be a potential disaster waiting to happen.
Again, look no further than RG III. As we have seen he has an ongoing movement dysfunction. Unfortunately for him and all Redskin fans, he tore his right ACL late in the 2012 season. Additionally, take a look at the photo below, where RG III clearly shows the same exact movement dysfunction that was seen in his Subway commercial and during the NFL Combine. The red flags were there before he became injured.
As a coach, I am constantly cueing athletes to perform most all lower body movements with their knees out, but sometimes this verbal coaching won’t fix the issue. We will try re-setting the pattern through reactive neuromuscular training (RNT) while performing the squat pattern and other movements. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We try to clear up any mobility restriction through soft tissue work and stretching. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. No matter the case, I am constantly on the lookout for the dysfunction and then going through progressions to fix the issue.
The point of this is not to bash RG III, far from it actually, he is just a good example that most people can relate with. The point is, correcting this valgus knee collapse (or any movement dysfunction for that matter) is critical for both athletic performance and injury prevention. As a strength and conditioning coach or anyone working with athletes, it’s our responsibility to be on the lookout for any movement dysfunction that could lead to potential injuries. Sometimes we forget that our number one job is to keep athletes healthy so that they can compete.
Furthermore, it’s our responsibility to continually educate ourselves so that we can do our best to correct the potential dysfunctions. Spend the time following the work of physical therapists and strength coaches like Kelly Starrett, Gray Cook, Charlie Weingroff, Michael Boyle, Eric Cressey and many others who have done an incredible job of educating the masses. Young strength coaches and friends Brendon Rearick and Kevin Carr are doing great things with their business Movement as Medicine. There are a ton of people out there to learn from.
The bottom line is this; it’s our responsibility to keep our athletes healthy, so it’s our responsibility to search out all the information available to do so. Be on the lookout for movement dysfunctions and fix them before they become bigger issues. And most importantly, if you are stumped and can’t fix the issue, don’t be afraid to tap out and ask for help – I know I have before and will again in the future.