By Marcisco Morrison
The truth is that it’s not squatting that is hurting your knees but what and how you are doing it. There is, therefore, a proper way of squatting that won’t cause you pain—and the opposite is true also. The simple fact is that if squatting is causing you pain in the knees—and you don’t have any previous injuries—it’s simply because you are forcing your knees to work more than your hips.
Learning the proper use of the hips when doing your squats is important if you wish to avoid unnecessary pain in the knees.
Do The Squats Gradually
The first thing to remember is that a well-executed squat has everything to do with balance. Don’t attempt going parallel all the way on the first rep. Rather, take it slowly, only adding a couple of inches with each rep. Remember it takes time for your muscles to master this complicated exercise.
Positioning Your Knees
Much of the pain in the knee happens when your weight is allowed to rest on your toes and then the knees sort of come forward, causing them to come under extra strain. Keeping the toes directly pointing forward exerts an abnormal amount of pressure on the inner side of your knee, eventually leading to injuries. It becomes critical to keep the toes pointing outwards at an angle of 45 degrees. This posture allows joint two of your knees to open in the proper way as you go down on the squat.
Use A Box
Many athletes are quadriceps-dominant with plenty of muscle on the front side of the legs, although relatively deficient in hamstrings and glutes muscle. This kind of imbalance exerts much stress on the knees, effectively leading to squats that are “toe-heavy”. These make your kneecaps feel like they could bust out.
To address this type of imbalance during your squats, use a 12-14 inches high box. Place this behind you on the rack in a way that as you squat, you are capable of reaching for the box, touching it with your butt when at the bottom. Instantly, this makes your squat more hip-dominant, placing more of the stress towards your backside.
Mobilize Your Calves And Quadriceps
During squatting, too much tension in the calves and quads places your knees in a vulnerable position. It’s therefore important that you devote a couple of mobility specific drills to your calves and quads. Consider incorporating these two drills into your warm-up before you start the squats.
• Toes-Up Hip Hinge
• Reverse Lunge (Overhead Reach)
These two drills will not just target the calves and quads but they are also good at strengthening the hamstrings and glutes, effectively reducing potential knee pain.
Balance during squats is not easy and it takes a couple of weeks to master the proper way of squatting. It’s sad, though, that while squats have so much to contribute towards your athletic performance, badly executed they can cause great pain. Truth is that much of that pain can be prevented easily.
Although it’s possible to experience legitimate cases of knee pain that may demand professional medical care, I can assure you that with the strategies described above, you will not experience knee pain when you squat.