Full Squats and Knee Pain

Arnoud Verschoor
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 12:23 PM

Each time I squat I feel it in my knees after the workout, and most of the times also the next day. Now, I know form must be good, and I'm still in favor of full squats for improving strength. However, I have squatted below parallel each time, about 2 to 3 inches. I've put the weight on my heels, which I was really concentrating on. A friend (a knowledgeable one) checked my form, and said it was good, and the weight was on my heels, still tendonitis. He also said my back didn't round. I will still tell people to do full squats, but I'm defending something which is really hurting my own knees. Am I the only one who has this 'thing' with deep squats? In the meantime I'll just refocus on deadlifts, after years of stretching I would have loved that deep squat though.

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saad ahmed
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 12:35 PM

Have you ever tried front squats? if not than start doing it.A more easier option is doing peterson step ups.Both movements will strengthen your knees apart from that there could be several causes for your knee pain,it could be your shoes,inward movements of legs during the concentric,bouncing or maybe a case of your knees not strong enough.

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salehdidit
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 12:53 PM

just curious, but do they hurt with full squats? (you say you do them 2-3 inches below parallel). for me, it's a different thing unless i go all the way down. even when i go 2-3 inches below parallel, the reversing motion will put some pressure on my knees.

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Ryan Applegate
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:21 PM

I agree, 2-3 inches below parallel is not even close to a full deep squat for me. Can you go lower?

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Nizar Abu-Hamdeh
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:27 PM

Each time I squat I feel it in my knees after the workout, and most of the times also the next day. Now, I know form must be good, and I'm still in favor of full squats for improving strength. However, I have squatted below parallel each time, about 2 to 3 inches. I've put the weight on my heels, which I was really concentrating on. A friend (a knowledgeable one) checked my form, and said it was good, and the weight was on my heels, still tendonitis. He also said my back didn't round. I will still tell people to do full squats, but I'm defending something which is really hurting my own knees. Am I the only one who has this 'thing' with deep squats? In the meantime I'll just refocus on deadlifts, after years of stretching I would have loved that deep squat though.
°°°Charles Poliquin had (has?) an excellent article regarding tendonitis on his website. You can, and should train your leg muscles especially the VMO and the Hamstrings, but don't overdo it! Otherwise you will make it worse. Poliquin suggests peterson step ups for a period of time until the knees are strong enough to handle full squats. He also recommends hamstring curls.

However, I think that you should ask a competent physiotherapist. I did that as well, and he had me do an exercise program that emphasized the vastus medialis obliquus with various step up variations, because he found out that my VMO was weak. Keep in mind that there are other reasons for tendonitis as well. In my case, the pain was gone after a few weeks and I was able to workout as usual.

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saad ahmed
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:31 PM

Squatting that deep will cause the knees to surpass the toes which will cause greater shearing forces on the patellar tendon and ligament.So strengthening the knees is very important when doing dealing with full squats.

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Arnoud Verschoor
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:33 PM

Wow, thanks for the all the quick replies! 2-3 inches below paralllel is not full depth for me, but it's very close to rock bottom. I'm not flexible enough yet to sit rock-bottom. And yes, I'll look into strengthening the VMO with other exercises (especially the peterson's), and front squats might suit me better (in the future), I've got really long legs and a short torso.

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saad ahmed
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:35 PM

Do 4 sets of peterson step ups(70 seconds for each leg) and 4 sets of 8reps on leg curls.

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Todd Wilson
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:40 PM

Fix the problem first. Improve the strength and size of your VMO, and go ahead and descend into the full squat, when you can get back to them.
Here's the thing, if a full ROM manifest itself problems, don't assume it's the ROM, there is some mechanism(s) causing any trouble, that is underlying and/or going unseen.

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Nizar Abu-Hamdeh
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:40 PM

Do 4 sets of peterson step ups(70 seconds for each leg) and 4 sets of 8reps on leg curls
°°°Saad, I think these are the guidelines from poliquin's article. Do you know the URL? I can't find it anymore.

THX

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Todd Wilson
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:41 PM

Squatting that deep will cause the knees to surpass the toes which will cause greater shearing forces on the patellar tendon and ligament.
### No it doesn't.

So strengthening the knees is very important when doing dealing with full squats.

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Nizar Abu-Hamdeh
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:43 PM

Squatting that deep will cause the knees to surpass the toes which will cause greater shearing forces on the patellar tendon and ligament
°°°People say that because of Klein's study which was a bad one...but that's the nature of research

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saad ahmed
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:50 PM

### No it doesn't
#Plz explain?can a lifter be flexible enough to perform a full squat without the knees goin past the toes?if the knees go past the toes than it will put more pressure on the knees

°°°Saad, I think these are the guidelines from poliquin's article. Do you know the URL? I can't find it anymore.

#Yes,and they work.Nope i dont have the url.

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salehdidit
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 2:11 PM

knees going past the toes in a full squat position does not put any pressure on the knees. the lifter will be sitting on his butt, and if there are any effects on the knees, it'll be tensional and not compressive, but it'd be pretty small anyways.
sorry, that's the best i can explain without diagrams.

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Todd Wilson
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 2:37 PM

Plz explain?
### Well, please explain why it *does* cause sheering forces. It does not cause sheering forces because at the bottom position the angle of the femure in relation to the tibia is such that virtually any movement (particularly sheering type movements) is all but impossible. Sheering is similar to, if you placed one CD on top of another, and then rubbed them together. This clearly cannot happen during full knee flexion.

can a lifter be flexible enough to perform a full squat without the knees goin past the toes?

### It has nothing to do with flexibility, it's the center of gravity.

if the knees go past the toes than it will put more pressure on the knees

### Heavens forbid! That's the idea! When you bench press it puts more stress on your shoulders and elbows. When you deadlift it puts more stress on your hips and back. That's the goal of lifting weight. To impose a stress that the body is not adapt to in order to force it to adapt to the imposed demands. It does not matter where your knee is in relation to the toe, when you bend you knee under load, there is more "pressure" or in better terms stress on the knee. Empirical evidence as well as plenty of studies find that this stress can be adapted too. Otherwise injury as opposed to increases in strength would be the norm as opposed to the exception.

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saad ahmed
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 2:38 PM

knees going past the toes in a full squat position does not put any pressure on the knees. the lifter will be sitting on his butt, and if there are any effects on the knees, it'll be tensional and not compressive, but it'd be pretty small anyways. sorry, that's the best i can explain without diagrams.

#Im saying the exact thing,i think shearing and tensional forces are the same?i did not say that shearing forces are bad for the knees unless you have an issuies with form or imbalances.I go way below parallel when doing front squats and they made my knees stronger.

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Todd Wilson
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 2:46 PM

,i think shearing and tensional forces are the same?

### No.

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saad ahmed
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 3:01 PM

All i was trying to say was that the forces on the connective tissues of the knee increase with the knee angle, particularly on the posterior cruciate ligament if im not wrong biomechanical research supports that,BUT! there is no evidence that these increased forces actually lead to injury. There is no direct evidence that full squatting causes or even exacerbates knee pain nor damage

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Jeff Finlayson
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 3:07 PM

' i think shearing and tensional forces are the same? '
They are perpendicular to each other. A tensile force would be like pulling on a rope. A Shear force is perpendicular to that, i.e. across the rope.

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Todd Wilson
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 3:10 PM

All i was trying to say was that the forces on the connective tissues of the knee increase with the knee angle,
### Well, then you should not have said that it increases sheering forces. Furthermore, increased flexion does not in and of itself increase forces on the connective tissue. The degree of "force" on any other the connective tissues can vary from the beginning to the end of the squat, and no joint angle causes "the most" stress at any single point in the ROM.

particularly on the posterior cruciate ligament if im not wrong biomechanical research supports that,BUT! there is no evidence that these increased forces actually lead to injury. There is no direct evidence that full squatting causes or even exacerbates knee pain nor damage

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Jeff Giordano
User full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 3:47 PM NEW!

Ever given box-squat a try?

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Re: Full Squats and knee pain
« Reply #1 on Oct 21, 2005, 12:44pm »

Quote:

saad ahmed
Guest full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 4:51 PM

David Woodhouse: Sports Science MSc
Narrow stance caused greater forward knee movement and hence greater plantar flexion at the ankle as the shank inclined (6). This caused an increase in activity of the gastrocnemius during the ascent phase and since the gastrocnemius is a bi-articular muscle crossing both ankle and knee joints there is an increased knee flexion moment (6). Intuitively greater quadriceps activity is expected to counteract this but as discussed above this is not the case. This implies that either this moment is negligible or that the kinematics are altered. The increased forward knee movement also increases knee shear force due to more acute angle formed by thigh and shank (6).

PATTELLAR KINAMATICS IN SQUATS

Ecamilla.R (2001)

1.Pattella compressive force is greater as depth of squat increases

2.Pattella compressive force is greater eccentrically.

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mark plummer
Guest full squats, not for my knees
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 10:44 PM

Arnoud, I had knee pains for several weeks on two separate occasions...
The first was when I changed to a bodybuilding gym where nobody really knew what 'proper' depth was, and so I started squatting to parallel or just below because of the lack of feedback from other lifters. I developed knee pains due to the tendons in the knees 'braking' the weight at parallel which in turn did not allow for my glutes and hams to work sufficiently. I solved this by simply changing to a powerlifting gym and squatting deeper.

The second was when I had a trapped nerve in my lower back. I started getting knee pains but couldn't figure out why as I hadn't specifically done anything to them like kneeling on them for long periods of time and I was still squatting deep. My back felt fine and was stronger than it had ever been. A trip to my Chiropractor revealed a trapped nerve in the lower back which was the source of the pain and was fixed after a few sessions.

From the above scenarios I would suggest maybe squatting deeper and/or seeing a competent Chiropractor and see if that solves the problem.

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saad ahmed
Guest full squats, not for my knees
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 2:28 AM

Full squatting will strenghten your ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissues thus increasing knee stability.

Remember majority of the knee injuries occurknee injury usually results from varus or valgus force (twisting of the joint in either direction), inappropriate loading, or forcible shear across the joint. It does not occur simply from taking the knee joint through a full range of motion, using correct technique, and using a weight which is appropriate to the abilities of the trainee.

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Arnoud Verschoor
Guest full squats, not for my knees
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 5:11 AM

I'll try to strengthen the VMO first, along with the lower back (though it's not really my weak part), but I did full squats because I was under the impression they would bring my VMO up to par. I know Poliquin is big one step-ups and and split squats, but what about (for example) weightlifters? They start out full squatting right away. I know I'm probably an exception, but shouldn't they strengthen their knees before full squatting?

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PDS
Guest full squats, not for my knees
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 6:41 AM

if you are a weightlifter, do full squats. if you are a powerlifter, do parallel squats. if you can do full squats with no pain and/or resulting injuries, do full squats. if you can squat a few inches below parallel without pain, then do that. if you can only squat to parallel, then do that. if charles polquin says do something and you cannot physically do it, don't keep trying to do it. if you see a video of pyrros dimas front squatting 220 kg. for reps, don't try it at home because it looks good for you. don't do mcmillian get-up round-ups with an euro-asian turkish hammer rack leg blast unless you are absolutely sure it will not dislocate your knees and hips, sprain your back and fuse your spinal column. What I am trying to say is that if you are working out because it is good for you and want to get stronger - and not for competition - then do what works AND allows you to walk around like a normal person. In my view, being able to get up in the morning and walk to the toilet is more important than doing a full squat with 250 kg. while enduring great and lasting pain. but i am sure many will think i'm wrong on this.

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Jeff Giordano
Guest full squats, not for my knees
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 8:19 AM

That's an excellent point, PDS. However, it should also be noted that sometimes you have to stick it out. When I first started training the squat consistently my knees would ache almost nightly. Eventually, I got better/stronger at them and the aching stopped. The same sort of senario occured when I started training my grip.
The point is you need to learn to be aware of yourself and how to tell the difference between what is hurting you and what your just not used to doing.

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John Magness
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full squats, not for my knees
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 8:41 AM

..."mcmillian get-up round-ups with an euro-asian turkish hammer rack leg blast"...
Gonna need a video of that one!

(Good to see you're still lurking Pat.)

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Todd Wilson
Guest full squats, not for my knees
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 12:19 PM

I'll try to strengthen the VMO first, along with the lower back (though it's not really my weak part), but I did full squats because I was under the impression they would bring my VMO up to par.
### Often they do, but ever so often, there will be a case in which the Vastus lateralis is soo strong, that is still dominates the movement, or the VMO, just will not fire properly. If this is the case, split squats with something like a sit fit disc, or wobble board can be beneficial.

I know Poliquin is big one step-ups and and split squats, but what about (for example) weightlifters? They start out full squatting right away. I know I'm probably an exception, but shouldn't they strengthen their knees before full squatting?

### NOt necessarily, I've seen a bunch of cases of tendonitis, cured from full squatting, but now, I typically use the full squat to maintain VMO strength during other phases of training as opposed to using it right away. You don't have to do it that way, but it's just what I think fits into most athletes needs analysis better in many cases. ALways exceptions though