Knee Pain When Squatting

Knee Pain When SquattingIf you are experiencing knee pain when squatting then you might need to learn the proper squat form. Squatting is an innate behavior that starts from the time we learn to walk. As we get older we lose our correct squatting form and replace it with a more conventional form of bending.

Then when we realize that a good squatting form can protect our backs from injury or help us to strengthen our muscles, we squat with poor technique. The good news is that you don’t have to stop squatting to get rid of the knee pain. You just have to learn the correct squat form.

Reason for Knee Pain When Squatting

The Popliteus muscle is used to unlock the knees. It functions by laterally rotating the thighbone (femur) on the shine bone (tibia). When you squat the Popliteus muscle contracts and expands in the leg.

The expansion causes the muscle to push against the knees which, if done incorrectly, can cause pain. Read more about pain behind the knee from the popliteus muscle.

Proper Squat Form

To get rid of knee pain when squatting you need to have the proper squat form. Whether you are picking up a box from the floor or squatting a heavy barbell the squatting technique is the same. Here are 8 steps for the proper squat form along with a video from our youtube channel.

  1. Stand Firm with Feet Pointing Out – Before you do a squat make sure your feet are securely planted on the floor with your toes pointed out.
  2. Keep Your Head Straight – Don’t look down. If you keep your head looking forward you will avoid arching unnecessarily.
  3. Inhale Going Down & Exhale Coming Up – Remember to take a deep breath before you go down. If you breathe incorrectly you might become dizzy or even nauseous.
  4. Hinge Your Hips – If you don’t want your knees to protrude over your toes then hinge your hip so your butt goes slightly back as you go down.
  5. Use Your Arms – You can balance yourself while you squat by using your arms when you go down. Extend your arms straight out to help to counter balance you and assist you in maintaining good form. You can also use weights or bands which accomplishes the same thing as well as increases your workload.
  6. Keep Your Chest Out & Shoulders Back – Keeping your chest out and shoulders back will keep you aligned as you go down. In addition it will protect your back and ultimately your knees from pain.
  7. Arch Your Lower Back – Don’t round your back. As you go down keep with the natural curvature of your spine and arch your lower back.
  8. Go As Deep As You Can – No need to go deeper than your body will allow you to squat. If you stretch regularly and practice your the proper squat form you will develop more flexibility.

Click here to watch the video on the proper squat form.

Note: if you have knee pain when squatting from arthritis you might be experiencing an inflammation in the knee. If that is the case contact your doctor or healthcare provider or click here to learn about living happier with an arthritic knee.

Do you suffer from knee pain when squatting? If so please let us know how you manage the pain in comments below.

Article last updated on January 9th, 2019, first published on March 14, 2013.

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3 thoughts on “Knee Pain When Squatting

  1. Hi,

    I have a Question about Tip 3. In the text you say Exhale Going Down & Inhale Coming Up whereas in the video the opposite is mentioned. Which is the correct form?

    1. Thank you for pointing that out. It has been rectified. You want to inhale before you go down and on the way up you want to exhale. And of course never hold your breathe. Thanks again.

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