Does Squatting Cause Knee Pain?

Squatting is a universally beloved form of exercise and is regularly included as a part of people’s daily workout routine and is also an important part of physiotherapy for knee pain. However, some people experience knee pain after doing squats, or knee pain when squatting weights.

This usually happens because of incorrect posture, movement, or stance. It is necessary to identify the correct posture and stance, movement, and flow of a squat to prevent any unnecessary knee pain.

What Are the Causes of Knee Pain After Doing Squats?

To prevent injury and worsening knee pain, it is essential to understand the causes behind your knee pain while squatting. They include- 

  • Incorrect Movement- If you immediately feel pain after performing a squat, chances are that your posture and movement for this exercise are wrong. This usually happens when the knees go beyond the toes and when you overstretch the knee. Not keeping your core tight or your hips pushed back can lead to additional lower back pain. This stance can incorrectly transform extra pressure on your knees away from your hips and legs, causing knee pain. Even after you adjust your stance and you feel pain, you should definitely consult a doctor. 
  • Twisting the Knee– Sometimes while squatting, due to an imbalance or irregular posture you might end up twisting or spraining the knee. These types of injuries are quite painful and cause redness, inflammation, and swelling. It might cause knee pain when squatting and standing up, knee pain when bending, and much more. A person with this injured knee can also find it difficult to put pressure on the knee or balance their weight on the leg. 
  • Pain in the Knee Cap– Medically known as the patellofemoral syndrome, it is more commonly known as the ‘runner’s knee’ or the ‘jumper’s knee’ as it often affects people who are into sports that require intense jumping and running. It causes pain in the front and around the kneecap and knee, making it difficult to squat and painful to bend. 
  • Tendonitis– Tendons are the connecting tissues that attach the muscles to the bones. This is a common overuse disorder that causes strains and swelling around the knee. It mostly occurs due to overuse and repeated intense movements of the knee, mostly if there is a lot of force and pressure exerted on the knee. If you are playing a contact sport or playing on a concrete court, then this might be a reason behind your knee pain. 
  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis- These are two of the most common types of arthritis. It can lead to knee stiffness, tightness, swelling, inflammation, pain, and redness. Osteoarthritis, commonly known as the wear and tear disease causes the joints between the knees to erode. It causes bone spurs which are quite painful. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder that can cause damage to the lining of the joints causing stiffness and swelling. The common symptoms of these two diseases are a limited range of motion, mobility, flexibility, functionality, stiffness, and in some cases- deformity. PTSD arthritis is also a possibility after a grave injury to affect and damage the joints and ligaments. If allowed to spread, it can cause infection of the knee. 
  • Tears– Meniscus, cartilage, and tendon tears are common injuries of the knee. It can be a repercussion of a severe injury or an accident. It leads to immobilization of the knee for the healing process by wearing a knee cap or knee brace. Another form of tears is limited to the patella of the knee called patellar tendon tear which can happen due to intense exercise, a fall, or pre-existing conditions. It causes difficulty walking, an unstable knee cap, pain, tenderness, and visible deformity or indentation. Physiotherapy for knee pain is highly recommended for such type of injuries. 
  • IT Band Syndrome– The IT band or as it is medically known- the iliotibial band is a protective tissue that helps people to bend their knees. It runs along from the hip to the knee. So if you feel pain after squatting, it might be because of an injury to the IT band. It becomes inflamed and swollen and causes pain between joints while bending. It is recommended that you stretch after exercises so as to prevent and avoid this syndrome.

Also Read: Easy Exercises for Knee Arthritis

Prevention and Recovery Methods to Avoid Knee Pain While Squatting

Here are some tips that you can use to avoid knee pain while squatting. 

  • Before performing any sort of exercise regime, whether it is low impact or high impact, it is recommended that you do a thorough warm-up. If you belong to the elder population, this becomes all the more important because as you age your joints become weaker and can tear more easily if proper precautions are not taken at this age. A proper warm-up is necessary to ensure that all the joints are ready for exercise. Practice exercises that encourage blood flow, mobility, and flexibility to the muscles and helps deliver oxygen to them. Stretching before and after a workout is an important part of physiotherapy for knee pain and can help reduce the risk for injury among arthritic patients and elderly people. 
  • Squatting is an excellent exercise that helps the entire body! It can lead to better core strength, build leg and hip strength, lead to stronger joints and a smooth range of motion. If you have minimal joint pain, then it is okay to include squats in your usual routine. If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, then instead of doing a normal squat, a wall squat is better as it reduces the risk of putting extra pressure on your knees. To perform a squat for an arthritis patient to help with your knee pain, then follow these steps-
    1. First stand and align your back against the wall, with feet shoulder width apart. 
    2. Your feet should be about 15-18 inches away from the wall
    3. A very important step is to make sure that your knee is aligned with the heels and not out crossing your toes. 
    4. Control your breathing, while performing a squat, breather in as you bent, and exhale as you come up. 
    5. Make sure that your buttocks don’t drop anywhere below the knee level. Always the knee over the ankle and not the ball of the foot. 
    6. Immediately stop if you start feeling pain, give it a rest and then start again the next day. 
  • Stretching is a must after a gruelling exercise routine! It not only prevents soreness and tightness later on but also helps relieve some tension and stress build-up in the joints. It also promotes a faster recovery for your muscles and joints after a workout. To perform this deep leg stretch, follow these steps-
    1. On a yoga mat, keep your legs out in front of you.
    2. Maintain a straight back, you can do this by stabilising yourself with palms on either side of your hips. 
    3. Now, slowly bend one knee and hold this position till you feel a good stretch. Do not overstretch as it can become painful. 
    4. Hold the leg in that position and then slowly straighten them again, but this as far as it is possible without any extra pain. 
    5. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds
    6. Be sure to switch between legs frequently and repeat around 10 times on each leg.
  • RICE Therapy- For faster recovery after a mild injury or painful symptoms, make sure you Rest for a day, Ice the affected area, Compress the affected area with a knee bandage or band, and keep it Elevated for as long as possible. This leads to faster recovery after a gruelling session. 
  • Consider Physiotherapy for knee pain if you want a long-term solution to your knee pain, as it involves a set of exercises, massage therapies, and movement correction to keep your painful symptoms at bay and also help with short-term pain management. 

Also Read: 10 Common Knee Injuries

For more information about knee pain after squatting and physiotherapy for knee pain, head on to Phyt Health, India’s first digital physiotherapy platform offering online physiotherapy services and consultations. With a wealth of knee exercises present on their website, you can include them in your daily life depending on your comfort level. All these exercises are curated by expert physiotherapists at Phyt Health. You can also book your online video consultation on the app, to discuss any issues you might be facing and begin your journey towards recovery!