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Why Do I Have Knee Pain While Squatting?

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4 min read


Knee pain experienced while squatting to pick up a fallen object and during exercises can be due to improper posture and knee condition. Read this article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Sumithra. S

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Suman Saurabh

Published At June 16, 2022
Reviewed AtNovember 28, 2022


Squatting is a common position people do in their day-to-day life. People squat when they want to pick things up from the floor, while working out, and while playing sports like basketball, volleyball, etc. During these exercises, one may experience pain or discomfort in the knee region. It can be due to various reasons. This article will explain the causes, remedies, and prevention of knee pain while squatting.

What Are the Possible Causes of Knee Pain While Squatting?

The common causes of knee pain while squatting are,

  1. Squatting all wrong.

  2. Twisting or spraining the knee.

  3. Tendonitis.

  4. Knee arthritis

  5. Iliotibial band syndrome.

  6. Cartilage tears.

  7. Patellofemoral pain syndrome.

  • Squatting All Wrong - The right way to squat is to sit with legs a little wider than the hip-width, bending the knees, bringing the hip back with chest upwards and shoulder backward. Squatting works the gluteus, thigh muscles like hamstrings and quadriceps, hip flexors, and calves muscles. Doing squats improperly can result in knee pain, and instead of working thigh muscles and gluteus muscles, pressure will be exerted on the knee area.

The most common mistakes made while squatting include placing the knees forward more than necessary, bending forward while squatting, and lifting the heels.

  • Twisting or Spraining the Knee - Knees are made of ligaments. Any injury to the ligaments will result in a sprain. Placing more weights on the knee, twisting the knee while squatting incorrectly, and a fall or a hit during sports activities are mainly major causes of knee sprain. A sprained knee will cause pain and swelling. Limping is also another sign of a sprained knee. With a sprained knee, squatting or doing any kind of exercise involving the knee becomes difficult.

  • Tendonitis - It is a condition of inflammation of the tendons (a connective tissue that connects muscle to the bone). Tendonitis of the knee is caused by the overuse of the knee during sports or exercises. Athletes are most commonly affected by tendonitis. Obesity, not enough shoe padding, uneven leg muscles, and not properly aligned legs, ankles, and knees are the contributing factors to tendonitis.

  • Knee Arthritis - Arthritis of the knee is characterized by the presence of pain, swelling, and stiffness. Arthritis gets worse with age, and there is no permanent cure. Only the symptoms can be controlled.

Cartilage tissue seen around the joints is responsible for producing cushioning effects to the bone. Due to inflammation and age, the cartilage wears out, and the joint (knee) becomes stiff and painful due to decreasing cushion effect.

  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome - Iliotibial band is a tendon that runs from the hip to the knee on the lateral side of the leg. The iliotibial band gets inflamed due to constant rubbing against the knee bone. The rubbing happens when the tendon becomes tight. This occurs especially while playing sports and squatting. People who work out without proper stretching are more likely to sustain this injury.

  • Cartilage Tears - A rigorous activity resulting in a knee injury can cause the cartilage to tear. Activities found to cause cartilage tears are climbing mountains and stairs, playing sports like football, squatting, bending the knee too much, etc. People affected by cartilage tears will experience symptoms like pain, popping noises in the knee, stiff knees, swelling, and pain while working out. This will usually require surgery and physiotherapy to heal.

  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome - Also known as runner’s knee, is a pain experienced in and around the knee. It is most common among people who do running and jumping a lot. People suffering from patellofemoral pain syndrome often experience pain while taking the stairs, squatting, and bending the knees. Women are more likely to be affected by patellofemoral pain syndrome.

How to Manage Knee Pain While Squatting?

  1. Commonly called RICE which means rest, ice, compress and elevate, it is used to relieve knee pain and swelling. Resting the leg by not doing the activities that elevate pain is essential. Icing the area of pain for 15 to 20 minutes will ease the pain rapidly. Compression using the elastic bandages can be done for the swelling to subside. Tight compression should be avoided, and a small area over the kneecap should be left open. Resting the legs over the pillow such that the legs are above the level of the heart offers good relief. Heat compression can also be done in the case of arthritis.

  2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are available to be bought over-the-counter. These medications can help ease the pain and inflammation.

  3. Physiotherapy to improve the muscle strength around the knees with mild exercises will be advised by the doctors.

  4. In case of severe pain and serious injury, arthroscopy and realignment surgeries are recommended. Arthroscopy involves a thin device inserted into the knee to find and rectify the damage.

How to Prevent Knee Pain While Squatting?

  1. Warm-up is mandatory before starting a workout, especially for older people.

  2. Squatting has to be done in an appropriate way. To squat, one should stand in a position and gradually sit with the buttocks. During this, the thighs should be parallel to the floor, the back should be straight and should not bend, the buttocks should not be lower than the knee, and the foot should rest on the floor. One should not strain too much in order to prevent injuries.

  3. It is always advised to squat in front of a mirror to maintain eye contact.

To prevent the knee from being exposed to injuries causing pain and swelling, the following facts can be considered.

  • Discontinue the activity if it causes any discomfort.

  • Warm-up and cool-down during exercises should not be avoided.

  • Lose the extra pounds to eliminate pressure on the knee.

  • Stretching should be done on a daily basis to avoid the stiffness of muscles.


Knee pain is a common condition that can be commonly found with rigorous activities and aging. It is advisable to restrain from the activities causing knee pain. Diagnosing the causative factor and treating the condition in the early stages can prevent the worsening of the pain.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Do People Get Knee Pain While Doing Squats?

When individuals are squatting, the most common type of injury which causes knee pain is a meniscus tear. During this type of injury, damage occurs in the special cartilage, which lines the knee joint. Because a great deal of force will pass through the knees when people do squats, and the cartilage present in it works like a natural shock absorber.


Is It Normal for an Individual to Feel Knee Pain During Squatting?

Usually, people do squats to strengthen their leg muscles and build their glutes. But many people experience knee pain when they are doing this type of common exercise. However, in a few other persons, knee pain is caused due to improper posture, and also it can be caused by the way the individual knees are placed.


How Can Individuals Relieve Their Knee Pain While Squatting?

Some of the ways people can avoid knee pain while squinting are:
- One should stretch their quadriceps and stand with their feet shoulder-distance apart.
- When people bend their left knees, the foot will be behind them so that they can easily grab their foot with their left hand by gently increasing the knee bend. Then automatically, the heel approaches their buttocks. Everyone who is doing squats should not lock their knee to the other knee.


How Do Individuals Protect Their Knees While Squatting?

Individuals can protect their knees by keeping them in line with heels and not in the front of the toes during squatting. People should comfortably sit down and breathe in and out after doing squats. And also, one should not lower their buttocks lower than the knees in line with heels.


How Can People Strengthen Their Knees?

People can strengthen their knees by focusing on the moves by working with their hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and with hip muscles by doing exercises, including:
- Calf raises
- Leg extensions.
- Side leg raises.
- Prone leg raises.
- Calf raises.
- Hamstring curl.
- Half squats.


Can Individuals’ Knees Strengthen by Doing Squats?

Individuals can strengthen their knees by doing squats because squats are a multi-purpose knee-strengthening exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks. Squats not only strengthen the knees but also help to support the prevention of and recovery from common knee injuries. And it also helps to improve cardiovascular health because squats help to reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass.


Is It Okay for an Individual to Avoid Squats, When They Have Bad Knees?

Usually, squats are not bad for the knee health of an individual. In fact, squats should be done correctly because they are really beneficial for the knee’s health. But when individuals are new to squatting or previously had an injury, it is a best and good idea to check with an expert about the technique. And one can identify university-qualified exercise professionals near them.


How Can People Relieve Their Knee Pain?

People can relieve their knee pain by following the given tips:
- Activities should be modified to avoid causing pain.
- Heat or ice packs can be applied to the site of pain.
- Braces can be worn to support the knees.
- Muscle creams or rubs are used as topical treatments.
- Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen are used as an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Gentle stretches and exercises are practiced.


Can Individuals Naturally Relieve Their Knee Pain?

Individuals can naturally relieve their knee pain by following the simple remedies like doing:
- Physical activities.
- Strengthening exercises.
- Posture and support exercises.
- Taking medications.
- Undergoing massages.
- Preparing for aromatherapy.
- Doing things like protection, rest, ice compression, and elevation (PRICE).
- Following a diet to lose weight.


What Will Be the Best Exercise for Knee Pain?

Given below are the few best exercises individuals should follow to reduce knee pain. 
- Leg adduction exercise.
- Knee full extension exercise.
- Ankle stretch exercises.
- Knee stretch exercises.
- Single hamstring stretches.
- Unweighted exercises like leg cycle exercises can be done by lying on the back with both legs keeping in an upward direction.
- Double knee-to-chest exercises can be done by starting on the back with keeping their legs outstretched.
- Unweighted flexion exercise.


How Weak Knees Are Caused in Individuals?

In many cases, individuals with weak knees are caused due to injuries either from high-impact activities like running or undergoing accidents resulting in knee instability. ACL tears and meniscus tears are common knee injuries seen in people.


How Can Individuals Identify That Their Knee Pain Is a Serious Condition?

Given below are a few tips to identify knee pain in people as a serious condition.
- Presence of a marked knee swelling.
- Consisting of fever in addition to redness, pain, and swelling in their knees.
- The legs and knees have a confirmed deformity.
- Individuals cannot bear the weight on their knees or feel like their knees are unstable or give out.
- People are unable to fully extend or flex their knees.


Which Vitamin Helps to Produce Knee Cartilage?

Usually, vitamin D helps to produce cartilage regeneration in osteoarthritis (OA) conditions. But people do not know the exact mechanism of how it occurs. In few studies, it shows that there is an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis along with vitamin D deficiency. But in some other studies, results have been inconsistent.


Does the Knee Cartilage Be Repaired by Itself?

Knee cartilage cannot be repaired completely but can have a limited ability to repair by itself because cartilage does not have enough blood supply. The strengthening muscles around the joint and along with cartilage regeneration helps a few patients to delay their replacement surgery for damaged joints.
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Dr. Suman Saurabh
Dr. Suman Saurabh

Orthopedician and Traumatology


knee pain
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