Is it normal to have knee pain during squats?

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Intermountain Healthcare
Administration
It's not "normal" but it's also a frequent problem. Often times the pain is coming from between the kneecap and the femur and may be an indication of cartilage damage. Sometimes it is the tendons that are causing pain. These sources of pain are reasons to consult a sports medicine doctor. If the pain is minimal or off-and-on, doing more shallow squats and making sure your knees don't move too far forward as you squat down will help decrease the chance of pain.
Wendy Batts
Fitness
Any type of pain is not a normal thing and shouldn’t be ignored or “worked through” while training. If you have pain in the knees during training, be sure to check with your physician first before engaging in increased physical activity. Knee discomfort can often result from restriction in the motion above and below it, that is, your hips and ankles don’t have the needed flexibility to produce the movement, so your knees take the "hit" for it.

Try a couple simple stretches, one each for the common culprits at the ankle and hip, particularly before and after your workouts. If pain and discomfort persist, check with your doctor to be on the safe side.

Static calf stretch
1. place your hands on a wall in front of you
2. take one step forward
3. straighten the back leg and squeeze the butt and quads 
4. be sure your back foot points straight or slightly inward
5. keeping your back heel firmly on the ground, lean toward the wall until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your leg
6. hold this position for 20-30 seconds and remember to breathe!

A hip flexor static stretch
1. take one step forward
2. point the back foot’s toes at the forward foot’s heel (i.e. point it inward)
3. squeeze your butt so that your low back flattens and rounds a bit (pretending you are a scared dog with its tail tucked between its legs)
4. keep the abs tight and bend the forward knee until you feel a stretch at the front of the hip on the same side as the back foot
5. hold this position for 20-30 seconds

Pain in the knee joint with any activity is not normal and is an indication that your body is unable to handle the demand placed upon it. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as improper training or poor biomechanical alignment. When performing squats, make sure that you are using correct technique. Make sure your knees do not move too far forward during the movement (you should be able to see your toes at all time), and make sure your knees do not cave in (your knees should stay in line with your toes). If you are unsure of your technique, consult a personal trainer, athletic trainer, or physical therapist. If pain is severe or persists, consult a health care professional.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.