5 Steps to Eliminating Knee-Pain While Squatting.

“I can feel it in my knee(s)”

I hear this more often than not when assessing a new client.

Now there are a myriad of reasons as to why that particular feeling presents itself during a squat.

Instead of trying to make a diagnosis, which is out of my scope of practice, my job as a trainer is to find solutions to problems and get my clients moving pain-free through the greatest range of motion possible.

Without further adieu, here is a quick troubleshooting list to specifically aid in reducing or managing common knee pain during a squat:

1.) Take your shoes off

  • You don’t learn how to play the piano with mittens. Same idea with squats.

  • More proprioceptive sensory feedback – you can “feel” what’s happening and also what isn’t happening.

2.) Hip width stance with toes out slightly

  • This typically allows you to sit down better instead of ‘stacking’ on top of your knees (stacking is where the pain comes from).

  • If you stand too narrow, your knees end up doing a lot more work than we want them to.

3.) Knees and toes point in same direction

  • Ensures joints are aligned & eliminates internal torque at the knee.

  • No matter what your stance is, making sure the knee & ankle are aligned throughout the squat is a priority.

4.) Create external torque

  • “Screwing your feet into the floor.”

  • Automatically recruits the glutes and allows the hips to work more during the squat.

  • Think about spreading the floor with your feet, or "pushing" the floor apart.

5.) Sit back a little first, before sitting down

  • If the knees are a source of pain, then dive-bombing down through the knees to begin a squat may not be a good idea.

  • Sit back a little first before breaking at the knees.

  • Think “horizontal before vertical.”

  • This load up the heels more, which automatically shifts the weight into the hips more than the knees.


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Written by Jeff Muir. Jeff is the lead trainer at Vagus Fitness. He has over 10 years of experience working with a wide range of clients including those with severe spinal injuries, hip replacements/candidates, knee issues, neck issues and more to improve strength, mobility and function. He has a keen interest in working with 50+, bone and joint issues and clients who are looking for strength and mobility improvements. You can contact Jeff at jeff@vagusfitness.com.

Kyle Mahadeo