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Squatting without Knee Pain

Knee pain with deep squats is a common complaint amongst knee pain sufferers.  The location of knee pain can vary.  Sometimes the pain located in the front of the knee at the patellar tendon (patellar tendonitis), quad tendon (quad tendonitis), or around the kneecap (patellofemoral syndrome).  It could be on the outside of the knee along with the IT band (IT Band syndrome).  It may be from a meniscus injury across the joint line.  It may even be on the inside of the knee near the bursa (knee bursitis).

To obtain a clear diagnosis, an examination should be performed.  Although there are differences in how you should treat specific conditions, common limitations exist when it comes to squatting and knee pain.  Some factors that contribute to knee pain with squats include an abnormality in the way the lower leg lines up with the hip, knee, and foot and improper tracking of the kneecap.  In some cases, movement mechanics are affected if you have poor mobility of your hips and ankles and/or weakness of your trunk, hip, and thigh muscles.  The best way to know what is contributing to your knee pain when squatting is to have a movement assessment performed.

Once you know what your specific limitations are, the first common-sense recommendation is to take a short break from activities that may be irritating your knee.  These may include squats, lunges, running, or jumping activities.  Taking a break should help the pain subside.  If your pain persists, receiving hands-on therapy can help alleviate pain faster.  Once your pain is under control, you can now address the root and contributing causes to your knee pain.

If you have a weakness, learning how to engage muscles that are not firing well is key.  When it comes to knee pain when squatting, the muscles that often need attention are the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.  Some exercises that are effective during this stage are the quad set, bridging with a foam roller, and calf raises off a step.

Once your muscles engage better, the next step is restoring movement.  To be able to squat with good technique, you need to be able to bend at your hips, knees, and ankles while maintaining an upright torso.  Exercises that are effective for restoring movement as it relates to squatting include triple flexion, tall-kneeling hip extension, and box ankle dorsiflexion.

After you have restored movement, you need to develop strength in the squat pattern.  This will enable you to prevent the reoccurrence of pain when you squat.  Exercises that are helpful in building strength in the squat include the goblet squat, back squat, and front squat.  Resistance can be used in the forms of barbells, dumbells, or kettlebells.  Being able to generate tension through your hip, thigh, and foot muscles when squatting is key to stay healthy and enjoy an active life.

Most of the exercises mentioned above can be found in our video library.

When addressed with a specialized physical therapy program, overcoming knee pain when squatting is possible.  However, ignoring pain and engaging in repetitive activity can result in a further decline of your knee health.  If you’re worried about your knee pain, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to help you.

We invite you to request a knee consultation with one of our specialists.  This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your knee pain, and foster confidence that we can help you.  If you’re certain that we’re a good fit to work together, you can decide on the next step.

If you’re in knee pain but unsure about what you should do, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.

Physical Therapist Dr. Tim Varghese

Dr. Tim Varghese

Movement Solutions

"We Help Active Adults, Ages 40-60+ Overcome Pain And Injuries And Get Back To Their Favorite Activities Without Unnecessary Medications, Injections, Or Surgeries."