pain when squatting knee

I. Introduction

The human body is naturally adept at squatting without experiencing discomfort or pain. When we engage in this movement, the interplay of muscle strength, flexibility, and alignment is crucial. Issues related to these factors may impose pressure on the knee joint, resulting in pain and inflammation, particularly evident in cases of pain when squatting knee.

It’s essential to be mindful of your body and its limitations during any physical activity. While squatting itself may not be the primary cause of knee pain, it can serve as a potential risk factor for progressive pain, especially when combined with various musculoskeletal conditions. Understanding these dynamics is key to promoting knee health and mitigating discomfort during squats.

Causes of Pain When Squatting Knee

pain when squatting knee

Squatting Incorrectly

Squatting with poor stance or posture can significantly exacerbate knee pain during squats. The knee joint undergoes severe strain when the hips, knees, or ankles are improperly positioned, especially during a deep squat. This misalignment results in repetitive friction between the patella and femur, causing discomfort and inflammation. Proper technique involves key aspects:

  • Placing your knees a hip-width apart.
  • Ensuring even weight distribution.
  • Being mindful of your upper body and knees.
  • Maintaining good posture, especially during weighted workouts.

Patellofemoral Syndrome (Runner's Knee)

Runner’s Knee, or Patellofemoral Syndrome, involves misalignment and movement issues related to the kneecap. This condition leads to knee pain when squatting, causing wear and tear on the cartilage behind the kneecap. Symptoms include clicking sensations, redness, and tenderness. Increased pressure on the joint and reduced synovial fluid contribute to inflammation and knee pain after squats.


Osteoarthritis, a prevalent form of arthritis, emerges as the cartilage cushioning the bones wears off. As you squat, the compressed cartilage increases friction between the bones, resulting in inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Knee pain during squats is a common challenge for elders due to this condition.

Tear in Cartilage (Meniscus Tear)

A meniscus tear, a frequent injury causing knee pain during squats, involves damage to the cartilage lining the knee joint. Damaged cartilage fails to absorb shock during knee bends, subjecting the knee to extra pressure and causing severe pain and irritation.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

ITBS manifests as pain on the outer side of the knee during squats. The tightening of the thick band running down the outer thigh to the outer portion of the kneecap leads to increased friction, misalignment, and pain. ITBS is characterized by a snapping sensation and inflammation.

Weak Glutes

Weak gluteal muscles can contribute to knee pain during squats by overexerting the knee joint and unevenly distributing force. In addition to inflammation and pain, individuals with weak glutes may experience balance issues, stiffness, and tenderness.

Preventing Knee Pain During Squats

pain when squatting knee

In essence, movement is like a soothing balm for your knees. To maintain lifelong knee health, the key is to stay active, and tailored to your preferences. The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, complemented by strength training twice a week to fortify muscles and shield joints from stress. Here are concise ways to ensure your physical activity fosters robust, resilient knees.

Embrace 'Movement Snacks'

Prolonged sitting can irritate knees, so make it a habit to stand up and move frequently, even if only for a minute or two. Dr. Anderson suggests incorporating movement throughout the day, surpassing the benefits of sitting all day and hitting the gym later. Set alarms for hourly mini-breaks, encouraging walks or stretches.

Enhance Knee Mobility Gently:

Improving knee pain often revolves around enhancing range of motion. Dr. Anderson recommends two weight-light ways to achieve this, facilitating deeper knee bends during activities like squatting.

Knees to Chest Stretch:

Lay on your back, pull knees to chest, holding for 30 to 60 seconds. For a gentler stretch, perform this one leg at a time.

Child’s Pose

Kneel with knees apart, buttocks toward heels, lean forward with hands on the ground. Hold for one to two minutes

Improve Ankle Mobility

Given the interconnected movement of the knee and ankle, enhancing ankle mobility aids in maintaining optimal knee alignment. Use the knee-to-wall stretch:

  • Place a bare foot flat on the floor about three inches from the wall.
  • Bend the knee forward until it touches the wall.
  • Rock the knee toward the wall, hold for 3-5 seconds, relax, and repeat.

Engage Hip Muscles

Some individuals naturally rely heavily on knee-dominant squats, neglecting hip muscles. Dr. Anderson suggests hip exercises to enhance engagement, offering potential pain relief. A heightened awareness of movement patterns can also make a significant difference. Start with standing side leg raises for a proactive approach to knee care.

Common Mistakes and Corrections

Here’s the truth: achieving a “perfect” squat is a myth. According to experts, the variability in people’s bodies makes it challenging to prescribe one universal form. While the general squat technique works for most, it’s essential to recognize that your body might have reasons for not aligning precisely with these guidelines. The key is to pay attention to your body’s signals during a squat and adapt the technique to your unique needs.

General Squat Form Recommendations:

Keep Feet Flat on the Ground:

Ensure the inside and outside balls of your feet, along with your heels, are all firmly grounded.

Maintain Hip-Width Apart Stance:

Stand with your feet positioned hip-width apart for a stable foundation.

Align Knees with Feet:

Keep your knees in line with your feet, ensuring they rest directly over your feet, neither forward nor behind.

Upright Chest and Engaged Core:

Hold your chest up and engage your core throughout the squat movement.

Hinge at the Hips:

When squatting, shift your hips back, simulating the motion of sitting on an imaginary chair behind you.

Ensure Knee Alignment:

Aim to maintain the middle of your knees in line with the space between your second and fourth toes throughout the entire squat.

How a Chiropractic Professional can help you in Pain?

pain in knee while squatting

After conducting a thorough assessment, your chiropractor will tailor a personalized treatment plan, addressing the root cause of your knee pain. If an underlying condition is identified, the plan will focus on resolving it.

To manage knee pain effectively, your chiropractor will integrate various strategies. This may include specific knee adjustments to facilitate healing from any incurred damage. Central to the treatment is the reduction of inflammation, often accomplished through techniques like Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS), accompanied by ice or hot packs. These methods target the affected area, initiating the healing process.

While EMS aids in swelling reduction, the chiropractor aims to identify and address the initial cause of joint or muscle inflammation. Once swelling subsides, attention turns to restoring optimal function to the knee joint. Chiropractic manipulation is a key element, reinforcing mobilization or facilitating recovery. If mobility isn’t a concern, alternative approaches like deep tissue treatment or trigger-point therapy may be recommended.

Whether the knee is the primary issue or connected to other areas, your comprehensive treatment plan may involve:

  • Chiropractic knee adjustment
  • Ice application for inflammation reduction
  • Soft tissue massage to alleviate inflammation, enhance blood flow, and improve range of motion
  • Ultrasound treatments
  • Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises


knee squats pain

In conclusion, choosing chiropractic help for knee pain means getting a plan designed just for you. Chiropractors work on finding and fixing the real issue causing your pain. With a customized plan that may include knee adjustments, reducing swelling, and specific therapies, they aim to make your knee feel better and work well again. It’s like having a roadmap to ease the pain and get you moving comfortably. So, if your knees bother you, talking to a chiropractor could be a great step toward feeling better and staying that way.

If you're looking for a chiropractor in Kentucky, USA, consider reaching out to Meade Chiropractic. Our experienced chiropractor, Dr Meade, is dedicated to providing personalized, effective care to help you achieve optimal health and well-being.

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