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Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Dealing with knee pain during squats? No worries! You've got some smart tips to help you out and keep your fitness goals on track. Whether you're just starting or a seasoned gymgoer, these strategies will help you overcome knee discomfort and get back to enjoying your squats! 

The 10 main reasons why your knees might be hurting during squats.

1. Cartilage Tear

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

A knee cartilage tear is painful, especially during squats, but it's not the most common cause of squat-related knee pain. Meniscus tears, affecting the knee's cushioning cartilage, are more typical. Cartilage tear risks include improper squat form, existing knee issues, and sudden intensity boosts. Symptoms involve sharp knee pain, swelling, and bending difficulty.

2. Knee Bursitis

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

If you're dealing with knee bursitis, squatting can make it worse, especially if you're not doing it right or doing it too much. Here's why: Squatting puts a lot of stress on the knee joint, irritating the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions your kneecap. Doing deep squats frequently can lead to inflammation by causing friction between the bursa and surrounding tissues. Also, if your squat form is off——like knees caving in or your back rounding – it adds extra strain on the bubursa.

3. Poor Technique

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

When you don't squat right, it often leads to knee pain. For example, if your knees cave in or track outward, it stresses the knee joint. Placing your feet incorrectly strains the knee instead of working those big leg muscles. Leaning forward or putting too much weight on your toes overloads the knee, and if your core isn't engaged, stability weakens, adding stress to your knees. Additionally, if your ankles or hips lack mobility, your knee ends up compensating in awkward ways.

4. Weak Glutes

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Weak glutes can mess up your squat and lead to knee pain. Strengthen them with exercises like bridges and lunges, focusing on good form. Consider getting guidance from a trainer for effective glute targeting. This not only improves your squat but also reduces knee discomfort and enhances overall lower body strength.

5. Runners Knee

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Squatting can make a runner's knee worse as it stresses the kneecap and surrounding tissues. If squats cause pain, adjust your form or skip them until it subsides. Strengthening your quadriceps and hamstrings can give extra support to your knee. Remember to warm up, keep good form, avoid deep squats if they hurt, and think about using a brace or tape for support.

6. Chondromalacia Patella

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Chondromalacia patella is when the knee cartilage gets soft, causing pain and trouble, especially for athletes and young adults. It happens from things like using the knee too much, not aligning it right, weak muscles, or injuries. To feel better, you can rest, use ice or heat, take pain medications, do physical therapy, wear a brace, or, in serious cases, consult a professional.

7. Patellar Tendonitis

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

If you have patellar tendonitis, squatting can be a bit tricky because it puts stress on the sore tendon. But don't worry, it's not completely off-limits! Deep knee bending and wrong form can make it worse, but squats can also strengthen the muscles supporting your knee, which is good. Be careful with your form, start slow, and pay attention to your body. Make sure it feels okay and doesn't hurt. The best way to go about it depends on your situation, so always go for movements that are safe and don't cause pain.

8. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

If you've Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), squatting can be a bit tricky. On one hand, it might make things worse because of all the knee bending, but on the other hand, it can actually help by strengthening some crucial muscles. Here's the lowdown: squatting can irritate the already angry Iliotibial band and stress it more if you're not doing it right. But, it can also do wonders for your glutes, hamstrings, and core, making things easier on the Iliotibial band. The key is doing it the right way. Remember, everyone's different, so make sure you're moving without pain.

9. Knee Arthritis

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

If you've got knee arthritis, whether squatting is safe depends on how bad it is and how much it hurts. Surprisingly, squatting can actually be good for you. It helps build up the muscles around your knee, making it more stable and less; painful. Start with a small squat; don't let your knees go too far forward; keep your back straight; and use support like a chair if you need to. If it hurts, stop and take it easy. And, of course, if you're not sure, chat with your doctor or a physical therapist. They'll guide you in the right direction.

10. Hamstring Injuries

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Hamstring injuries are common for athletes. Squatting incorrectly or with tight leg muscles can make it more likely. Tight leg muscles limit hip movement during squats, stressing the hamstrings. Bad form, like a rounded back or knees caving in, strains them. Lifting too heavy with bad form adds extra stress. To avoid injuries, warm up, use good form, start light, and pay attention to how your hamstrings feel. If unsure, talk to a doctor or an expert in exercise.

Master the Perfect Squat Techniques

  1. Position: Stand comfy, feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.

  2. Core Power: Tighten your core like you're bracing for something.

  3. Hip Action: Pretend you're sitting back and down, but keep that back straight.

  4. Lift from Heels: Stand up, pushing through your heels like a champ.

  5. Knee Friends: Make sure your knees follow where your toes are pointing.

Beneficial Exercise That Can Cause Knee Pain If You Do It Improperly

  1. Deep Squats: Don't go too low; keep your thighs parallel to the ground, and watch your form.

  2. Lunges: Be careful with your front knee; it should stay over your toes, and don't lunge too far forward.

  3. Running: Get good shoes, start slow, and build up. Bad form and the wrong shoes can hurt your knees.

  4. Jumping Exercises: Land softly to protect your knees, especially with stuff like box jumps.

  5. Leg Press Machine: Use light weights and focus on form. Don't overdo it. If anything hurts, stop. If you're unsure, ask a trainer or therapist for help

Symptoms Of Knee Pain When Squatting

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Pain at the back of the Knee

If your knees hurt while doing squats, it could be because of a few things, like a Baker's cyst, hamstring strain, meniscus tear, ligament issue, arthritis, or muscle imbalances. To help, take a break from squats, rest, ice your knee, and talk to a professional for advice. Remember to warm up before squatting, use good form, start with just your body weight, and pay attention to how your body feels during exercises.

Pain at the side of the knee

If your knee hurts while doing squats, it might be because of inflammation or tears. Take a break from squats, rest, use ice, and consult with a professional. Warm up properly, pay attention to your form, start with lighter weights, be mindful of your body, and consider additional support if needed.


If your knee swells up when you squat, it could be from overdoing it or other issues like problems with the bands or cartilage. To help, stop squatting, take a break, use ice, and prop up your leg to bring down the swelling. It's important to see a doctor or therapist for the right advice. Remember, this is just general information, and talking to a healthcare professional is the best way to figure out what's going on with your knee.

Clicking or popping sounds:

If your knees make clicking or popping sounds when you squat, it's usually no big deal unless there's pain or swelling. It could be gas bubbles, tendons snapping, or, rarely, loose bits in your joint. It's best to see a doctor if you're worried.

Locking of the knee joint:

If your knee locks up when you're doing squats, it could mean there's a problem like a meniscus tear, loose bits in your knee, plica syndrome, or arthritis. What you should do is stop squatting and avoid things that hurt. Put some ice on it to bring down the swelling. But the most important part is to see a doctor so they can figure out what's really going on and help you get better.

Difficulty bending or straightening the knee:

If your knee gives you a hard time bending or straightening during squats, it could be due to muscle tightness, ligament problems, a tear in the meniscus, or arthritis. Here's what you can do: take a break from squats, use some ice if it's swollen, and definitely see a doctor to figure out what's going on and get the right treatment.

Treatment for Knee Pain When Squatting


If your knees hurt while doing squats, it's important to see a doctor. They'll ask about your health, check how you feel, and might suggest tests like X-rays or MRIs to figure out what's causing the pain. This helps them understand the problem better and plan the right treatment for you.

Imaging Tests

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

There are a few types of imaging tests to figure out what's causing knee pain during squats:

  1. X-ray: It shows basic images, highlighting bone issues like fractures or alignment problems.

  2. MRI: This detailed test captures images of soft tissues like ligaments and tendons, helping spot tears or injuries.

  3. Ultrasound: It uses sound waves to create images, useful for diagnosing conditions like baker's cyst in the knee.

Dr. Gaurav Vashisht, He's a specialist in musculoskeletal radiology, and he's all about making sure your medical images are interpreted accurately. With his expertise, you're in good hands for the right treatment.  

Check out the Bone and Joint Imaging website for more about him.


Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Physiotherapy is really helpful for dealing with knee pain during squats because it looks at the root causes and helps bring back pain-free movement. Here's why it matters:

  1. Personalised Care: A physiotherapist can figure out exactly why your knees hurt during squats by checking your movements and muscles. They then create a treatment plan that suits you best.

  2. Hands-On Techniques and Exercise: Physiotherapists use hands-on methods like moving your joints and working on your muscles to make them function better. They also give you exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.

  3. Knowledge and Self-Care: Physiotherapists share information about your condition and teach you ways to manage pain and prevent it from coming back. This includes tips on how to squat properly, exercises to avoid injuries, and adjusting your activities.

  4. Safe Return to Squats: They guide you step by step as your pain lessens, making sure you can safely get back to doing squats without hurting yourself again. Remember, it's crucial to see a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and a plan tailored to you before starting any physiotherapy.

How Hip & Knee Orthopaedics Can Help You

Don't Let Knee Pain Squash Your Progress: Strategies for Pain-Free Squatting

Orthopaedic specialists are like experts for knee problems, especially during squats. They figure out what's wrong by checking you thoroughly and doing tests. Then, they create a plan just for you, which might include medicine, physiotherapy, shots, or even surgery, depending on what's needed. They also fix how you move during squats and manage conditions like arthritis. If necessary, they suggest wearing a knee brace or using special inserts for support, and after surgery, they help you get back to squatting with strength and confidence. It's important to see these specialists for personalised care and a safe return to squatting without pain.

Dr. Milind Tanwar, a skilled orthopaedic surgeon from PGIMS, Rohtak, excels in arthroscopy, sports injuries, and complex fractures. With a dedication to inclusive healthcare, he combines international training in Australia with a humble nature, making him a respected figure in orthopaedics.

Check out the Milind Tanwar website for more about him.


Is it safe to squat if my knees hurt?

It's important to figure out the cause of your knee pain. Talking to a doctor or physiotherapist is the best way to make sure squatting won't make it worse for your specific situation.

How can I strengthen my knees?

To strengthen your knees, concentrate on exercises like lunges and bridges. Having a trainer can help ensure you're doing it right.

Should I stop squatting if it hurts?

If squats are hurting, it's wise to take a break. Fix your form, focus on strengthening the right muscles, and get advice from a physiotherapist or orthopaedic specialist.

How long will the pain from squats last?

The length of squat-related pain differs. Getting professional advice, sticking to a rehab plan, and gradually bringing back squats with supervision can help speed up your recovery.

Why do my knees hurt when I crouch down?

If your knees hurt when crouching, it could be due to various issues like cartilage tears or muscle imbalances. Consulting with a healthcare professional is a smart move to pinpoint the cause and get the right treatment.

How do I keep my knees safe during squats?

To protect your knees, make sure you nail the technique: stand comfortably, engage your core, sit back with a straight back, lift through your heels, and make sure your knees align with your toes. If you're unsure or feel pain, it's a good idea to consult with a trainer or physiotherapist.


To sum it up, if your knees hurt during squats, it's crucial to figure out why. Learn the right squat techniques, watch for symptoms, and consider physiotherapy or consulting specialists like Dr. Gaurav Vashisht and Dr. Milind Tanwar. Focus on proper form, seek expert guidance, and take it slow to make squatting a pain-free experience.

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