The knee joint is relied upon very regularly for a large amount of activities and therefore can be easily subjected to injury. Knee pain when completing a squat is not uncommon, it mainly arises because of issues with technique or muscular control.
Completing a deep squat also requires good joint range of movement, otherwise individuals may compromise movements leading to poor squat form.
Firstly, knee pain can arise if a warm has not been completed correctly. Warming up is critical to prepare the body for exercise by encouraging specific movements, as this will help to reduce injury and improve general form. We recommend taking around 5-10 minutes on working on mobility around the hips, lower back and ankle, followed by some warm up sets at around 50% of the weight you intend to lift.
Technique is important when performing a deep squat, it is recommended that your feet are set slightly outside shoulder width apart, with toes pointing outwards at about 20-30⁰. This will help to prevent to much force being applied to the knee joint, by allowing the individual to sit deeper into the squat. This prevents the knee’s from traveling forward and past the toes (as this increases the pressure on the knee joint). Also, be sure to track the knees over the toes, and not on the inside of the foot.
Another simple, yet effective change is when you are set and ready to lift the barbell from the rack is to push your elbows forward. This is so they are perpendicular to your torso. This will help to drive your chest forward and upwards, and help to set the mid to lower back. Additionally, you will find that "sitting back" into the squat feels more natural - you’ll realise when you try it!
Muscular control can be an important issue to address. If all relevant muscles aren’t working together it can cause certain muscles to overload, leading to knee pain. If you correctly warm up, ensure your technique is correct, AND still have pain present; then improving muscular control could be key. By performing different exercises such as:
- Hip thrusts
- Kettlebell Front squats
- Landmine squats
- Spit squats
- Leg press
These will help your body become used to different stresses in and around the knee joint. So alternating exercises will help to improve muscular control and strength. A squat is a key movement as it demonstrates good hip, knee and ankle movement but doesn’t mean other squatting exercises aren’t as effective, find what works for you!
Also, a simple cure for knee pain can relate around footwear. Weightlifter will often wear shoes which have a heightened, and firm heel. If you don’t have this luxury you may find putting two small weight plates under both of your heels will help to reduce the stress placed upon your knee and therefore reduce your pain. This is also a great idea if you have tight calves, or Achilles tendon problems to allow a much deeper squat position.