Very frequently I get people that contain me and complain about knee pains. Some have trouble early on starting out training because of knee pain or they claim they can’t do certain lifts like squats due to knee issues. Let’s get deeper into this topic.
Unless you have an actual injury from things like sports, accidents or you’re quite elderly, you shouldn’t be experiencing any knee pain from training or from doing a deep squat particularly.
If anything, proper training and a properly done squat should help reverse minor types of knee damage and will help you overtime.
3 Things That Contribute To Knee Problems:
Let’s cover 3 things that contribute to knee problems:
1. Excessive use of knee wraps or knee sleeves. People used to think for years, and they didn’t have a reason to think otherwise, that these things prevented injuries. That they helped keep the knees warm and raised hydrostatic pressure, but in studies from more recent years it turned out that cronic use of knee wraps, during things like squats, can actually cause knee damage overtime that wouldn’t be there if you did the movements without knee wraps. I don’t see the reason to use them for injury prevention.
These are tools to lift more weight and I don’t recommend using them if you don’t compete with them. If you’re not competing at all then you have no reason to use them because they will not help you gain more muscle or raw strength.
2. Muscle imbalances. This is a large part because many of us have sedentary jobs, we sit at desktops at work and school as we grow up. Your hamstrings can become very tight or under developed sometimes as a result of this. People could use some more hamstring work. I don’t want people to think that it means I’m telling you to do hamstring curls because I’m not.
I’m telling you to make sure that you’re incorporating a number of hamstring dominant movements such as deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, glute ham raises or goodmornings. Deadlifts should be high on your list.
You need to be doing big heavy compounds to do use hamstrings very heavily to recruit them, develop them and to help balance the muscles out.
3. Doing Leg Extensions. Accordingly we also know that leg extensions have the potential to put more torque on the knee than necessary, while they not really offer you any real benefits. You can get full quad activation by just doing a squat.
There is no need for the majority of people to need leg extensions. Just like with anything else there are exceptions to every rule and there are athletes out there that benefit from leg extensions but they are the exception to the rule, not the norm.
You’re putting stress on the knee that doesn’t need to be there, that isn’t put there with any other lift and you may not need any more quad development. If anything, you might need to be more hamstring dominant to help with the stresses on your knee that can be causing problems overtime.
And those are the things that people are doing wrong there. The squat itself, like with any other lift done correctly in a proper program, can strengthen the knee overtime and shouldn’t be causing you knee pain.
Most people do not have well written programs that help their body adapt overtime and give their joints and connective tissue proper loading and proper breaks to adapt correctly.
Periodization and Deloads
Are people taking deloads appropriately? Are you taking different load perimeters that change the amount of load on the knees. Are you periodizing your training correctly or are you training with the same loads and intensity levels week after week after week?
There’s something to be said for lineair periodization and helping build stronger joints and connective tissue while giving them periods of time with less stress. The same could be said for different methods.
If you are used to heavy belt squats in training, you can do beltless squats for a period of time where you reduce the total load you’re using while still helping with overloading the muscle and development.
The same goes for paused squats, you’re going to use less weight, and for the same amount of reps you’re going to put less stress on the knees.
These techniques will not only help you build strength in other ways but also give the connective tissue recover because you’re still stimulating large amounts of growth but you’re doing this in a way where you put less load on the knees for a period of time.
This sort of thing can allow for better healing and adaptation for different tissues in the body. Not just muscle tissue but joints, connective tissue and bones. That’s the reason there are rotating training methods and one of the reasons we utilize periodization and deloads.
- Squats on itself shouldn’t be giving you knee pain, even if your form isn’t that great
- Eliminate the things that might contribute to knee problems
- Periodize your training and take deloads appropriate
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