Whether you love them or hate them, squats are an integral part of most workout routines and with good reason. But their booty-boosting abilities sometimes come with a side of knee pain that can prevent you from reaching your goals. POPSUGAR spoke to two experts to understand why your knees just never seem to be up to this ass-burning move.
Why do my knees hurt when I squat?
There are many potential causes of knee discomfort when squatting. But according to Jason Mulvaney, a NASM-certified corrective training and performance improvement specialist and owner of Ascension Athletics in Dallas, TX, limited ankle and hip mobility are common sins. “Unfortunately, our lifestyle mostly involves sitting at a desk, which does not help us move in the most optimal way,” Mulvaney told POPSUGAR. He explained that when our hips and ankles are tightened, our natural movement patterns are compromised and our knees often pay the price.
PJ Shirdan, a NASM-certified personal trainer and founding coach at FightCamp, explained that your body is a system. When there is a problem with one part, it can affect others negatively. Shirdan said that knee pain during squatting could be due to problems with the patellar tendon, anterior tibialis, hamstring or quadriceps. Other possible culprits include wrong form squatting, wrong footwear, too much weight, too many reps or inadequate warm-up.
What should I do if I experience knee pain while squatting?
Both experts agree that it is a must to check your form. (How to squat properly.) In addition to that, it is important not to ignore the pain. “People should always listen to their bodies and consult their doctor if knee pain persists,” Shirdan told POPSUGAR.
There are also some tricks for more immediate relief. If the pain is from tight calves, Mulvaney recommends putting some plates under your heels when squatting. He also suggested placing a box or bench under you to shorten your range of motion. Shirdan said to make sure you warm up properly (dynamic exercises are key) and that you have appropriate footwear for strength training. He added that you may also need to reduce the weight you are squatting.
Quick corrections aside, prevention of knee pain in the long run requires a more coordinated and holistic effort. “You need to keep up with your mobility and make sure you are on an exercise program that trains commonly neglected muscles such as the gluteus medius,” Mulvaney explained.