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Knee pain while squatting? Learn from the experts!

Do you experience knee pain when you squat?

If so, you could have a strength imbalance between the muscles around your knee and/or hip, or have flexibility restrictions at your ankle joint.

Technique coaching with an Exercise Physiologist
Squats are great, but why do they hurt your knees?

Read on below to find out the TOP 3 REASONS why your knee is hurting during squats, and be sure to send this link to someone it may help!

Types of knee conditions commonly associated/aggravated during squats

The most common type of knee condition associated with painful knees during squatting is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). PFPS which is an umbrella term for any anterior knee pain that arises from the patellofemoral (knee-cap) joint, or immediate surrounding area. This usually occurs due to excessive patellofemoral joint pressure from poor kneecap alignment, which can likely be caused by muscle imbalances and poor biomechanical control, and/or overuse.

The second most common type of knee pain we see is patella & quadricep tendinopathies (disease of the affected tendon). Similar to PFPS, these can occur due to excessive loads placed through the knee and are typically most prevalent following a lot of repetitive stress (such as jumping, running, or squatting!).

3 main causes of knee pain when squatting

1. Technique: One of the most common causes of knee pain when squatting is due to poor biomechanics/technique. Whether you do weighted squats, or just squat down to pick up groceries/your children, there is an ideal way to squat for each.

Two common errors we observe with poor biomechanics are:

  • Knocking the knees inwards - this is known as knee valgus collapse. This repetitive action over time can create excessive stress on the knees, particularly the inside structures, and usually occurs due to weakness in the lateral hip/glutes.

  • Tipping your bodyweight too far forward - this typically means that your body has a poor center of mass, known as being quad/knee dominant. This usually happens as a result of a lack of posterior chain strength & and poor perception of where your body is. The end result is excessive stress being placed on the knees, and too much output from the quadricep muscles.

2. The strength of your glutes & quad musculature: Similar to the above point, if there is not enough strength through the hips, this will place an increased demand through another area… such as your knee joints. In addition, if your quads are not strong enough for squats then they will also be less likely to handle the load demand. This can result in more force being placed in & around the knee joints instead.

3. Your ankle’s flexibility: The ability to bend the ankle whilst squatting is also highly important to allow more evenly distributed loading through the entire leg. If you’ve experienced chronic ankle stiffness or injuries and you experience painful knees when squatting, there is a strong likelihood that your ankle does not have the range of motion required to evenly distribute load through your lower limbs during the squatting motion. Thus, more pressure is placed onto the knee.

How to fix this!

The good news is that the above causes can be directly resolved through exercise therapy.

If you are one who knocks the knees inwards, it is more common for the gluteus medius to be quite weak. Press here to fix your collapsing knees.

On the flip side, if you tend to collapse your trunk and rock your weight too far forward onto your toes, then you need to teach your body a ‘neutral’ position! Click here to see how you can fix this.

If ankle flexibility is not your strong suit, then click here to get them moving more efficiently when squatting!

Who to see for this issue

If you are currently in pain and are yet to see an appropriate health professional for diagnosis, the best person to see is a sports physiotherapist. Click below to learn more!

If however, you have been suffering from this condition for a while and are frustrated with your results, the best person to see is an exercise physiologist, who are experts in rehab & technique coaching. Click below to learn more!

Struggling with this injury and in need of some help? We have 4 clinics in Sydney conveniently located for you to choose from - Sydney CBD, North Sydney, Chatswood & Mosman.

Alternatively, if you’re not from our area we have an online rehab platform available, suitable for anyone based anywhere in the world. Click the button below to check out our page!

Want to read up about ankle pain while squatting? Click here

Hope you enjoyed the read!


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