Why Does my Knee Hurt with Squatting?

Answering Dr. Google: Why Does my Knee Hurt with Squatting?

You asked and we’re gonna answer! 

Dealing with knee pain while squatting can be frustrating, so let’s help you learn about where it comes from and how to address it. 

Sources of knee pain

1. Incorrect foot pressure: Look at your shoes. If you see a lot of wear on the outside of your shoes that can be a telltale sign to overusing your quads and hip flexors. The “knee out” cue also plays into this problem.

2. Too much pelvic movement: Losing control of the spine/pelvis connection can result in excessive stress on the knees. Commonly observed as the “butt wink” or when your butt “tucks” under you before going into a deep squat. This loss of control comes from weakness in the lower abs or failure to create good tension prior to the movement. 

3. Asymmetrical strength: This one is very common and often the cause for symptoms occurring on the dominant leg. If you’re constantly using more of your “strong” side then eventually it's going to tell you with stiffness or pain.

How to address these problems:

1. Focus on your big toes and treat your squat like jumping. Keeping your big toes grounded and using them to guide your body weight force helps keep the stress in your hips and glutes not your quads. 

2. Focus on lower ab tension by slouching: Although it seems counterintuitive, slouching or tucking your butt under your hips, will activate your lower abs. By trying to hold this position and keeping tension in your lower abs (belly button and below) throughout the squat movement the stress will stay in your hips and not transfer to your knees.

3. Focus on pushing harder on the non-dominant leg: Make your “weaker” leg do more work. Push harder through the foot when coming up from your squat (While also keeping #1 in mind by pushing through your big toe)

These are 3 common problems and solutions we see on a daily basis at Xcel Movement and Performance. Regardless of your activity these principles can make a huge difference in a good day at the gym versus another restless night with throbbing pain.

Want more information with your specific knee pain with squatting? Schedule a consultation with myself or one of our specialists by clicking here.

As always, movement is mandatory

Dr. Brian