Knee Pain with Squatting Can Be Fixed
Knee pain with squatting can be very irritating. You may even be skipping your workouts at the gym because you end up leaving in too much pain. Or perhaps you dread picking up your toddler because of how much it hurts your knees. Whatever the cause or culprit, knee pain can really limit both your daily activities and your exercise. Since squatting is a foundational movement, as in we do it regularly in our everyday life, we want to end knee pain associated with it!
There can be many things contributing to your knee pain with squatting. You may have limited ankle mobility, decreased hip mobility, or decreased quad or hip strength, or any combination of these. Addressing all these factors can make your knees a lot happier and end your knee pain with squatting. That sounds ideal doesn’t it?
Limited Ankle Mobility
Did you know that knee pain with squatting caused by decreased mobility is typically not an issue with knee mobility? It’s more likely a mobility issue with the joints surrounding your knee – specifically the hips and ankles. Here are some of the reasons why poor ankle and hip mobility lend themselves to knee pain while squatting.
Having adequate ankle mobility is very important for squatting, especially getting down into a deep squat. Try a deep squat now and pay attention to your ankles. They really have to bend a lot! If you don’t have good ankle mobility, this will change the alignment of your legs during squatting. To test if you have adequate ankle mobility, kneel on one leg and place the other foot on the ground in front of a wall. Place your toes of the planted foot about 4 inches from the wall. Keeping your foot completely on the ground, can you touch your knee to the wall? If so, you have great ankle mobility! If not, improving your ankle mobility will help decrease your knee pain during squatting. Below is a great ankle mobility exercise.
Limited Hip Mobility Can Cause Knee Pain
Just like limited ankle mobility, decreased hip mobility can also affect your leg alignment with squatting and place more stress on your knees. To check your hip mobility, try the exercise below.
Can you complete the exercise both ways without lifting your feet off the ground? If you can’t and it feels tight and uncomfortable, improving your hip mobility may be helpful to improve your technique and decrease your knee pain with squatting. Even if knee pain isn’t an issue, you can perform this same exercise to work on your hip mobility. Hold onto a weight to give yourself more of a stretch.
Muscle Imbalance Causes Knee Pain With Squatting
If you do not have any limitations in your ankle or hip mobility, your knee pain with squatting may be due to weakness in your quads or hips. Your quads are one of the main muscles that is active during a squat. If your quads are too weak for what you are asking them to do, you may experience knee pain. Here is a great exercise to both strengthen and stretch your quads. Notice we said strengthen AND stretch. Both are important!
Strengthening the muscles in your outer hip will improve the alignment of your knees as you squat. When these muscles have adequate strength, they will keep your knees from caving in. Work on strengthening these muscles with the exercise below.
Knee pain during squatting can also be caused by muscle imbalance front to back. Usually the issue is weakness in the back of the leg compared to the front of the leg. Strengthening the muscles in the back of your leg (glutes and hamstrings) can help correct this imbalance. Single leg deadlifts are a great way to strengthen these muscles.
How to Not Allow Knee Pain with Squatting to Stop You
In order to continue exercising when you are experiencing knee pain, alter your squat form. Try sitting back as you squat down and limit how far your knees are going beyond your toes. This will decrease the forces through your knees, which will allow you to continue squatting without your knees getting as angry. Have a friend take a video of you squatting so you can have a better idea of how your body moves during the full range of movement.
Other changes to your squat technique you can try are adjusting the width of your stance and changing the position of your toes. Try placing your feet further apart and/or pointing your toes out a little more. Essentially, find a squatting position that feels the most comfortable for you. Perhaps a slight change will make all the difference!
Give these tips a try, along with the mobility and strengthening exercises, and reduce your knee pain with squatting so you can comfortably live your life!