Why Do My Knees Hurt When I Squat
There are many potential causes of knee discomfort while squatting. But according to Jason Mulvaney, an NASM-certified corrective exercise specialist and performance enhancement specialist, and owner of Ascension Athletics in Dallas, TX, limited ankle and hip mobility are common culprits. “Unfortunately, our lifestyle involves mostly sitting at a desk, which doesn’t help us move in the most optimal way,” Mulvaney told POPSUGAR. He explained that, as our hips and ankles tighten, our natural movement patterns are compromised, and our knees often pay the price.
PJ Shirdan, an NASM-certified personal trainer and founding coach at FightCamp, explained that your body is a system. When there’s an issue with one part, it can negatively affect others. Shirdan said that knee pain while squatting could result from problems with the patellar tendon, anterior tibialis, hamstring, or quadriceps. Other possible culprits include incorrect form while squatting, improper footwear, too much weight, too many reps, or an inadequate warmup.
Video: How to Master the Squat
Knee Pain & Stiffness After Exercising
Knee pain and stiffness can affect nearly every activity you might enjoy, from running a marathon to a weekend garden walk. Both young athletes and seasoned treadmill professionals can experience symptoms. The right treatment often depends upon the underlying cause. Determining where the pain starts and when your knees hurt might help your physician prescribe the best therapy for you.
Mistake #: Landing Incorrectly
If youre jumping, running in place or doing plyometric exercises, a common mistake is to keep your knees straight or even locked instead of softly bending your knees. This can wreak havoc not only on your knees, but also on your hip and ankle joints. Jumping up and then landing down puts a lot of pressure and strain on your joints, so its important to pay attention to your form especially if youre moving through exercises quickly. We naturally have these shock absorbers in our knees called menisci their primary role is absorbing forces that we impose on our knees whether its walking, running or jumping, Duarte explains. However, our muscles are meant to absorb some of that shock. He explains that if you land with your knees straight then all of that force will be placed on these menisci and none of that force will be controlled or mitigated through the muscles, which are significantly stronger than a piece of cartilage.
Fix #1: Land softly
Focus on keeping the knees slightly bent when performing movements like burpees and jump squats. Landing softly with a soft bend in the knees will allow for the muscles located in your legs to activate and control the forces being placed , Duarte says.
Landing softly with a soft bend in the knees will allow for the muscles located in your legs to activate and control the forces being placed .
Fix #2: Modify your jumps
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Kneecap Pain: Runner’s Knee
If you have soreness around the front of your knee or possibly behind the kneecap, you may have runner’s knee, also known as patella femoral pain syndrome or anterior knee syndrome. Running downhill, squatting, going up or down stairs, or sitting for long periods of time can aggravate the condition.
What Is The Difference Between Good Pain And Bad Pain
It is well known among athletes that some discomfort is part of athletic activities and is often part of a successful training program. For muscle strength to increase, the muscle must see some increase in stress over what it is used to experiencing, and this stress is usually perceived as the burn in muscle during activity. This mild burn is what we call good pain and is the basis of the popular phrase, “No pain, no gain.” This pain should be short-lived and resolve soon after the activity ends.
Fatigue after a good, strenuous workout is also a sign that the exercise is pushing the limits of the athletes physiology, but it too should not be excessive. This fatigue should leave the individual somewhat exhilarated but not overly exhausted. Fatigue that lasts days means the individuals physiology has been excessively challenged, and this means that the muscles and the energy stores are not being effectively replenished. Chronic fatigue after excessive exercise suggests that the individual may be overtraining. If after appropriate rest the fatigue continues, it may be a sign of other medical problems and you should consult a doctor.
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What Else Can Help With Knee Pain
Finding relief from knee pain depends on the cause or issue thats making it difficult for you to go about your daily activities. Carrying excess weight puts extra stress on your knees, which may lead to osteoarthritis.
In this case, the most effective treatment, according to the Cleveland Clinic, is weight loss. Your doctor may recommend a combination of diet and exercise to help you lose weight and strengthen the muscles in your lower body, especially around your knees.
A 2013 study found that adults with overweight and knee osteoarthritis experienced a reduction in weight and knee pain after 18 months of a diet and exercise program.
But if overuse is the culprit, your doctor will likely suggest RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation and physical therapy. A physical therapist can work with you to develop a program that includes range of motion exercises, stretches, and muscle strengthening movements.
Being A Bit Too Loosey Goosey In The Saddle
McMullen says any time you start bouncing a lot, or have your resistance so low that you don’t have control, you’re introducing more impact.
“Hard impact at the bottom of the pedal stroke because of inadequate resistance is going to be hard on your knees,” McMullen says. “Going a hundred miles an hour while standing is going to be really hard on your knee stabilization. Moving to every corner of the bike while your feet are clipped in to one place on the bike is going to go straight through your knees as well.”
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Staying Motivated If You Have An Injury
Being injured can be very frustrating. If you’re new to running, you might be tempted to give up at the first sign of injury.
Andy says that having a specific goal, such as a 5km race or charity run, will help you stay motivated through injury.
“If you have something to work towards, you’ll be much more likely to get back into running once you’ve recovered.”
Running with a partner is also a great way to stay motivated. If they carry on running while you’re injured, you’ll want to get back out there once you’re better as you will not want to let them down.
Page last reviewed: 20 June 2018 Next review due: 20 June 2021
Patellar Dislocation Or Subluxation
The kneecap, or patella, normally glides through a groove. A direct blow to the kneecap, usually from an accident or sports injury, can dislocate it from this groove. This is called patellar instability.
Two types of patellar instability include:
- Patellar dislocation: The kneecap is totally moved outside of its groove.
- Subluxation: The kneecap is only partially out of its groove.
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Myth: You Shouldn’t Squat
Squatting is generally considered good for your knees. The main function of the knee is to be able to bend so it’s perfectly normal to keep on squatting.
‘For some reason when we’re in the gym, we’re more apprehensive to squat. If you have painful knees, you may want to make the squat easier,’ says Allardyce.
‘You could just do a quarter leg squat where your knee just bends a little bit or a half squat where your knee bends half way. Or you could put a Swiss ball behind your back and do a wall squat. This is a great way to rehab people with knee problems.’
Exercises To Strengthen Your Knees
1. Knee flexion exercise
- Lie face down, and bend your knee bringing your heel towards your bottom.
- You will feel a gentle stretch to the quadricep muscles at the front of your thigh.
- Make sure you bend the leg in a controlled way.
- Return to the start position slowly and using the same level of control.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times, and perform three times per day to improve range of mobility to your knee joint.
2. Half wall squat with gym ball
- Place a Swiss ball behind your lower back, and keep your feet shoulder width apart.
- Bend your knees to the half squat position.
- Keep the middle of your knee-cap in line with the middle toes of your foot.
- Return to the start position.
- Repeat the exercise 10 times, twice a day to strengthen your quadricep muscles and knees.
3. Knee extension
- Sit down on a chair and place a towel under your thigh.
- Pull your toes up, tighten the muscles in the front of your thigh , and slowly pull your leg to a straight position.
- You will feel a stretch to the hamstring at the back of the thigh, and contraction of the quadriceps in the front of the thigh.
- Hold this stretch for 15 seconds, and relax.
- Repeat three times, twice a day.
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Arthritis Of The Knee
Arthritis causes the joints to become painful and inflamed. Different types of arthritis can affect almost any of the joints in the body, including the knee.
Cartilage is the flexible, firm tissue that surrounds the joints and enables them to move smoothly. Osteoarthritis develops if this cartilage breaks down.
People with knee osteoarthritis may experience pain and swelling around the knee and feel as though the joint is stiff.
Osteoarthritis is most common in people over the age of 65 years.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that affects joints all over the body. The immune system attacks healthy tissue surrounding the joints, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Post-traumatic arthritis can happen after an injury to the knee that damages the joints or ligaments. If an infection spreads to the knee, it can cause infectious arthritis of this joint.
Start Moving: Why Inactivity Is Hard On Your Knees
Do you spend a lot of time sitting? Maybe you work at an office where most of your time is at your desk, or maybe when youre at home, you prefer to rest on the couch instead of being on your feet. Many people live a mostly inactive lifestyle, but they might not realize that inactivity can be the reason why they experience increased joint pain.
Learn the reasons why inactivity can hurt your knees and what you can do to change it.
Weakens Your Knees
If you live a life or limited activity, your body adapts to that lack of motion. Essentially, when you arent using your legs muscles, ligaments, and joints for moderate levels of activity, you are losing them. Your knees become weaker as you require less of them.
One runner found that as she took time off running to rehabilitate an injury, she could not run after completing her recovery because of knee pain. She had to complete additional physical therapy because the rest had caused her to develop a condition called chondromalacia of the patella.
Essentially, her kneecap would not follow the proper range of motion because she had developed some weakness in the joint. Its a common condition for people who are not active. Even something as simple as going up or down the stairs can make your knees ache.
If you spend your day sitting, you also experience pain in other areas that can also aggravate the knee. Your quadriceps become tight, which exert a pulling sensation on your knees.
Increases Your Risk of Arthritis Pain
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Can You Prevent Knee Problems
Not all knee problems are avoidable, but you can lessen your chance of problems by participating in regular strength training. To protect your knees, it’s important to have a very strong core and strong legs, says Dr. Rebecca Breslow, an instructor in orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. Make an effort to perform strength training at least twice a week. In addition, work on increasing joint flexibility, which can also help you head off an injury.
Furniture And Knee Pain
The ergonomic design of the chair that youre sitting in can have an impact on knee pain.
For example, if you sit for long periods of time at the office, your chair should be properly designed and positioned correctly with the other furniture you are using, such as your desk.
If your workspace is not positioned at the correct distance and height, you could be holding yourself in an awkward position that, over time, can result in knee pain.
Knee pain at a workstation is often intensified by the chair being too low or positioned so you keep your knees bent for too long.
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Mistake #: Speed Breaks Proper Form
In HIIT workouts, one of the goals is to move quickly. Combine speed with fatigue and you may start to sacrifice proper form, which makes the likelihood of injury greater, says Monique Crous, founder of HOT HITT.
Plus, when your body is used to performing a certain exercise, you start to pay less attention to the mechanics of the movement. This leads to mistakes like squatting with your knees going too far past your toes, which can cause twinges and strains around the knee joint, and forgetting to engage your abdominals during the squat, which can put stress on your low back. Similarly, if your front knee goes too far forward in a lunge, youre putting more stress on the knee joint and not getting the full benefit of the exercise. Instead of the quads and glutes doing the work, the knee joint over-performs.
Fix #1: Slow down
When the music is cranked up and your fellow classmates are going full speed ahead, it can be hard to slow down and focus on your form. However, at the start of each new circuit or exercise, commit to doing the first few reps slower than usual. Get the form right, and then turn up the speed. “Focus on moving from the core. If you are moving more mindfully, even if you have to slow down, you will avoid injury and see results much faster, says Crous. Continue to remind yourself to pull your naval in towards your spine in all exercises throughout the class.
Fix #2: Check yourself out
Why Do My Knees Hurt When I Run On A Treadmill
“There are a combination of factors that could lead to knee pain when running on a treadmill, including using different biomechanics when running on a treadmill versus outside, as well as using a different stride,” Alexis Colvin, MD, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Mount Sinai and chief medical officer for the US Open, told POPSUGAR.
In fact, any knee pain you experience while running is very likely related to your form. If you’re experiencing pain in both knees, ” is often caused by alignment issues stemming from our foundation: the feet,” explained Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist in TriBeCa. “If the feet are not transferring ground reaction forces properly up the chain, alignment is thrown off and knee joint concerns arise.” Poor form is often to blame for this chain reaction, Dr. Lobkova added, “especially when on the treadmill.” You might also start to lose your form as you grow tired regardless of the surface you’re running on which can take a toll on your joints.
Even if your form is solid, outdoor surfaces are often more shock-absorbent than a treadmill, helping to reduce joint pain. “Running on the grass and dirt increases the shock absorption from the feet and up the musculoskeletal chain, since the surface has a higher energy return,” Dr. Lobkova told POPSUGAR. The same can’t be said for pavement, which means that maintaining your form is just as crucial when running on roads or sidewalks as it is when using a treadmill.
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What Should I Do About Runner’s Knee
To help knee pain at home, Andy recommends applying ice to the knee and stretching.
Hold ice on the painful area for around 20 minutes a few times a day. Never put ice directly on your skin.
To stretch the area, Andy recommends lying on your side with your bad leg on top.
Bend your top leg so your foot goes back towards your bottom, then hold it there with your hand and keep both knees touching.
Hold the stretch for at least 45 seconds, breathing deeply and feeling the stretch in the thigh. Repeat this around 6 times a day.
If the pain’s severe or the knee’s swollen, see a GP straight away.
If your knee pain is not severe, stop running and get it checked by a GP or physiotherapist if the pain does not go away after a week.
They can also recommend stretches or exercises to help you recover.
How Is Pfp Syndrome Treated
Someone with patellofemoral pain syndrome needs to limit or completely avoid activities that cause pain. Sometimes a change in training is all that’s needed. For example, someone who usually runs hills to train can try running on a flat, soft surface instead.
A person who has severe pain or pain that interferes with activity needs to rest the knee until the pain is better.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the knee every 12 hours for 15 minutes at a time. Put a thin towel between the ice and your skin to protect it from the cold.
- You can take ibuprofen or naproxen . Follow the directions that come with the medicine for how much to take and how often. Do not take this medicine for longer than about 23 weeks.
An important part of the treatment for PFP syndrome is improving the strength and flexibility of the legs, hips, and core muscles. Health care providers usually recommend going to a physical therapist to make an exercise plan that will help. The plan may include stretching, squats, planks, lunges, and other exercises that improve strength and flexibility of the legs and hips.
The health care provider might also recommend:
- a knee brace
It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes surgery is needed for PFP syndrome.
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