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5 Surprising Causes for Your Knee Pain

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Fitness

front-squatGuest Post by the creator of the Fix My Knee Pain system, Rick Kaselj

Knee pain sucks. Most of the time, it comes out of nowhere and starts bugging you. It leads to you avoiding squats and lunges. Plus it follows you around during the day.

Let me highlight a few things that you are doing right now that are leading to your knee pain.


#1 – To Much Back Squat and Not Enough Front Squat

It is a natural feeling to step into the rack and move into a back squat. It is one of those exercises that feels comfortable and you look forward to doing it.

Looking at the back squat and front squat, the back squat is the one that puts the greatest stress on the knees compared to the front squat.

In your workouts try to mix up the front and back squat. Your knees will be thankful that you did.

#2 – Not Taking the Box Serious

Another variation from the tradition squat that you should do more of is the box squat.

With your weight shifted back, it moves the shins in more of a vertical position, which decreases the stress on the internal structures of the knee (meniscus and cartilage). Also with the hips in great flexion, the trunk moved forward and you get more emphasis on the gluteus maximus. All of this shifts more of the weight on the hips than the knees.

Look at adding box squats into your workout to keep working your legs and easing up the stress on your knees.

#3 – Squatting Like an Old Lady

If you do a partial squat or parallel squat, it all ends up being about the knees.

The quads get you to the end position and out of the end. If you drop the hips so they are just below the knees, you load up the gluteus and you will get help from them in order to get out of the end position. This helps your knees at the hardest position of the squat and increase what you can lift.

Look at adding some depth to your squat. It might be awkward to start off with as it is a new movement and you may not have the strength at that knee and hip angles but start with bodyweight, progress to dumbbells and then work your way up to the bar.

#4 – Looking at the Wrong Thing

When doing squat, your body moves based upon where you look. Where you look during the squat will affect your knees.

When you squat, if you are looking down and not straight ahead or up a touch, it moves your trunk forward, increases your hip flexion and shifts more of your weight forward. All of this puts greater stress on your knee.

Focus in on looking straight ahead or a touch up and your knees will thank you.

#5 – Putting Your Knees Into Positions of Stress

This is the last tip and the most important one.

Look at what you are doing on a day-to-day basis when it comes to your knees.

Putting your knees into positions of stress on a day-to-day basis will just mess them up for the future. You need your knees for a lifetime and it is not fun when it feels like a knife is being stabbed into your knee every time you walk, squat, lunge or kneel.

One thing to look at is the way you standing. Standing on one leg for a long period of time puts unnecessary stress on the knee especially if you lock it out or extend it back. People often do this when they are hanging out at the bar or standing and chatting. Not good, don’t do this.

Do you stand all relaxed? You see this in some ladies where they will stand, relax their abdominals and press their knees back so they are hyperextended. Not good, don’t do this. It puts unnecessary stress on the knees.

Look at what you do for work or for fun. If you work a physical job like construction or a mechanic, you are always kneeling on hard cement. This presses the knee cap against the knee and it in time, it can lead to knee pain. It sounds simple, put a knee pad on or kneel on something soft. I know it sounds way to obvious but I have two family members that did not bother doing this in their twenties and now in their forties, their knees ache.

The Last Word

Let’s put it all together. When it comes to your workouts, do less back squat and more front squats and box squats. When it comes to the squat work, work on increasing your depth in the squat and look straight ahead.  Lastly, look at what you are doing day-to-day and keep your knees out of positions of stress.

That is it, here’s to a life of pain free knees.

Rick Kaselj, MS

Okay for those geeks out there that like research, here are the journal articles that I got my ideas from:

Donnelly DV, Berg WP, Fiske DM. (2006). The effect of the direction of gaze on the kinematics of the squat exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Feb;20(1):145-50.

Flanagan S, Salem GJ, Wang MY, Sanker SE, Greendale GA. (2003). Squatting exercises in older adults: kinematic and kinetic comparisons. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Apr;35(4):635-43

Gullett JC, Tillman MD, Gutierrez GM, Chow JW. (2009). A biomechanical comparison of back and front squats in healthy trained individuals. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):284-92. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31818546bb.

About the Author

Rick Kaselj is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer in Vancouver, Canada that specializes in designing exercise programs for clients recovering from injuries and pain.  Rick has trained thousands of clients and completed his Master’s of Science degree focusing on injury recovery.

To check out his brand new system, Fix My Knee Pain Click HERE now.