Squats are a hugely useful exercise, with health benefits that can be felt across the body. They’re easy to adapt for different skills and strengths, and can be accomplished without any equipment. There are many reasons why you should add squats to your routine.
However, improper squats can cause problems, with knee pain being a frequent complaint. So, should you remove squats from your regime? And how do you fix knee pain?
In this guide, we advise you on how to fix knee pain, and how to improve your squats to prevent knee pain.
How To Fix Knee Pain From Squats
When you start to feel knee pain, you should stop your movements to prevent making it worse. Squats can put a serious amount of pressure on the lower body, and even a mild knee pain could become an issue if not dealt with.
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is a method used in the aftermath of a strain. The R.I.C.E. method is designed to ease pain and swelling, help faster healing, and increase flexibility.
Rest is the first step. Once you feel knee pain, stop the exercise that’s causing the hurt. Sit down, and avoid situations that put pressure on the injury.
Ice the knee by applying cold packs for 20 minutes, at several points during the day. This can reduce pain and swelling by decreasing the circulation. Wrap your ice pack in cloth before applying.
Compression also works to ease swelling, which can reduce pain and improve healing. Keep an opening over the kneecap, and don’t wrap too tightly.
Elevate your knee above your heart. This drains fluid, and can speed up healing.
Although ice is good for a sprain and swelling, depending on the injury, you may need to add heat instead. If the knee feels stiff, or you suffer from arthritis, then heat can improve blood flow, and ease pains.
Wear A Supportive Knee Sleeve
Knee sleeves keep the area compressed and warm, regulating blood flow. This can alleviate pain, while improving flexibility. Knee sleeves can also provide support if you plan on squat lifting.
For recurring pains, a sports massage from a licensed professional can provide pain relief and work as a preventative measure. A sports massage typically focuses on muscles which are struggling with fatigue or pains.
Identify The Cause
Having done what you can to alleviate pain and treat the injury, you need to consider what’s causing the issue. This can help you to prevent future injuries, and avoid making a problem worse. Speak to trainers at your gym, and your doctor, to discuss what might be the cause of your injury.
Improve Your Squatting Technique
When you understand the cause, you can begin to improve your squats. This might be a quick fix, or it might require an effort to strengthen other parts of the body. Consider hiring a trainer, who can help with your form, and identify weaker areas.
What Causes Knee Pain From Squats?
Knee pain from squats might be a one time occurrence, but it can lead to a number of other issues. Lack of mobility, flexibility, and stability can all be a result of knee pain. For that reason, it’s important to identify the cause behind the knee pain, so you can work to improve the issue.
A lack of ankle mobility in squatting puts more pressure on the knees, which can lead to knee pain. To check your ankle mobility, all you need is a wall and a ruler.
Begin by marking a point roughly 5 inches from the wall. Place your big toe on this mark. Push your knee forward, over the toe, as far as it will go. Then, repeat with the other foot.
Ideally, your knee should be able to touch the wall as you lunge. If it can’t, then you likely have a lack of ankle mobility. This could be the cause for your knee pains, as the ankles can’t support a deep squat, putting pressure on the knee.
If you're wondering how to increase ankle mobility for squats, there are many ways you can achieve it. One is by doing box stretches. Place your foot flat on a box, and drive forward. You should be able to feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for five seconds, and repeat with the other leg.
Hips have a major effect on how your knees move. Poor hip strength and mobility can lead to an imbalance, which might be the cause of your knee pain.
Add some simple hip stretches into your daily routine, to improve strength. One easy starting point is the assisted hip airplane. Stand on a single leg, with the other leg elevated. Place your hands on a wall to provide support. Move your pelvis towards the wall, until you feel a stretch in the hip. Hold for five seconds, switch sides, and repeat.
Bad form is the cause of many aches and pains at the gym, and squats are such a natural movement we may not stop to consider how we do them.
Try going into a squat, and pay close attention to how you move. The heels should be flat to the ground, your chest and head should be high, and your knees should be behind your feet.
Improve your squat technique by practicing box squats. Stand roughly eight inches from a box or chair that’s elevated enough for you to sit on. Squat down, carefully maintaining your form, and keeping your feet on the floor.
With repetition, the correct squatting movement should become natural.
How To Prevent Knee Pain From Squats
Emphasizing form, stretching your ankles and hips, and reacting quickly can all prevent future knee pain.
If you feel in pain as you squat, stop immediately. For serious pains, use the R.I.C.E technique. Take a break from heavy exercise until your knees feel healed.
Before you go back to the gym, think about what might be causing the problem. Were you putting pressure on your knee, and collapsing your ankles? Did poor hip mobility lead to a lack of stability? How is your form looking?
Once you’ve identified the cause, some easy additions to your routine can get your squats looking stronger than ever. If you’re really struggling, then speak to a physical therapist, or a personal trainer. You can then work together to prevent future knee pain from holding you back at the gym.