Why Your Knees Hurt Squatting & How To INSTANTLY Fix It

Over the years squats have gotten a pretty bad reputation for causing knee pain and injuries. 


What I've learned is that squats aren't the problem. 


How most people perform squats is the real culprit when it comes to knee pain from squatting. 


If your knees hurt squatting it doesn't mean that squats are a bad exercise.


In fact, squats and lunges have gotten such a bad reputation for causing knee, hip and lower back problems.


I even posted a new video on how to stop low back pain from squatting that's definitely worth checking out since knee and lower back pain tend to go hand in hand.


That's like saying McDonald's food kills people. <==The food can't kill ya if you don't stick in your mouth


Read this excerpt from the book 'Facts and Fallacies of Fitness' by Dr. Mel Siff:


facts and fallacies of fitness excerpt by Mel Siff


It's not squats that cause pain and injuries; it's how the squat is performed that's the problem.


Seriously, who ever heard of anyone blowing out an ACL while sitting down to take a dump?


The truth is that the squat is a poorly understood exercise.


Squats are an excellent exercise for strengthening the hips and knees but, unfortunately, most people do not perform them correctly even though think they do.


Avoiding These 5 Mistakes Can Instantly Fix Knee Pain During Squats


Just one of these mistakes is enough to feel knee pain during squats:


1. Weight on the toes: This happens a lot when using too much weight which tends to pull your body too far forward. Other times it's simply a lack of awareness of how to distribute one's body weight.


2. Hips & knees move forward while squatting: This is a huge reason most people's knees hurt squatting and an example of poor movement mechanics and/or tight hamstrings.


3. Thighs and lower back muscles doing most of the work: This happens when the core, glutes and hamstrings are weak. When you lack proper core and hip strength muscle imbalances often result in the quadriceps and lower back over working. This is one of the main reasons for knee pain during squatting.


4. Abs and hips are weak: These muscles need to be properly strengthened in order to eliminate knee and lower back pain.


5. Trunk collapses forward: This is a sure-fire sign of weak abs and glutes.


It's important to understand that each of the above are caused by muscle imbalances that cause pain and injuries to areas of the body like the knees, back, shoulders, neck, ankles and feet.


In other words, movements like squatting and lunging are not bad for your knees and they don't cause injuries.


Muscle imbalances are the real problem.



  1. JanskiNo Gravatar on February 26, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I have watched this video yesterday, and it revolutionized the way I do squats. I have recently included squats in my work-out, and my knees were hurting even with very light weight. Watching your video helped me understand that it is not the quads that are the primary working muscles, but rather the glutes and hamstrings. The way you demonstrate the hips forward movement has helped a lot. Thank you!

  2. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on February 27, 2010 at 7:14 am


    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad the video helped you out.

  3. Graphic DesignNo Gravatar on August 7, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Brilliant blog but seriously the sheer amount of advertisements really make our experience much less.

  4. KazzaNo Gravatar on October 9, 2011 at 5:33 am

    hi Kevin

    My problem with squats is that I am physically unable to come down very far at all if I keep my trunk almost upright. Reading point 5 above, I think my core is quite strong so I am guessing it is more to do with quads/lower back – are there any exercises/stretches I can do to improve this?

    By the way, I have been watching your videos etc for a few months now and they are really helpful so thank you!

  5. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on October 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    It’s not so much to do them completely upright with your trunk just not excessively forward…In your case if it’s quad and low back compensation then stretches will do very little if anything to correct it…instead it may be a case of your core and hips not being strong enough in the extended position so you’d need core strength in the role of stabilization with your trunk in more upright and extended position

  6. resources on February 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm


    […]q well, GLEE is the best musical tv series out there, nice characters and nic tm[…]…

  7. MarianoNo Gravatar on May 9, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I don’t know. I tried squatting with my feet straight ahead more or less, and what it does is my hips get pulled down at the bottom pretty hard ie I round.

  8. Take your child and family together as a unit on several practice runs to the church to familiarize them with the surroundings and what to expect. Show them where the bathroom is, where they hang their coats, a nursery, or play room if any during the servNo Gravatar on May 23, 2013 at 8:28 am

    This excellent website really has all the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  9. FeliciaNo Gravatar on May 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I thought this video would help. But I still have problems. In my ankle, toes, and knees.
    One day I will do a squat properly :/
    Thanks for taking the time.

  10. AmeliaNo Gravatar on May 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Good video. As soon as my knee pain goes down I will try doing it the right way. Also I have read on many websites that if you got knock knees its better to do the squad with feet pointing outward and knees pointing the same direction. What would you suggest in case of knock knees?

  11. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on May 30, 2013 at 6:31 am

    I’ve discovered that knock knees have more to do with poor core and hip strength (and compensation patterns) than with the knees themselves.

    The feet turned out gives you stability through leverage but not through muscle contraction. Not to say you cannot perform a squat properly with feet turned out but you shouldn’t have to rely on this position to perform a squat safely.

    As your core and hips become stronger the knees will not ‘knock’.

  12. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on May 31, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Check your hips Felicia. Stand with your side facing a full length mirror. Watch your hips. Do they move forward upon the initial decent into a squat? If so, drive your hips back keeping your weight on your midfoot/heels.

  13. MariaNo Gravatar on July 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I have cronic low back pain from tissue damage. And two knees that “crunch” when I squat or do stairs, they don’t hurt, I just don’t want to make them hurt. My question is this. ..is there any move I can make so I CAN do squats? I think I’d like the result of doing them. Thanks!

  14. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on July 30, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I usually don’t worry about ‘noise’ if it doesn’t cause pain.

    Do your needs move forward, inward or outward as you descend into your squat?

  15. MariaNo Gravatar on August 3, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Straight forward…thanks.

  16. MandiNo Gravatar on September 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I am very glad I found this video because I did pay good money for a personal trainer (only to injure myself) who told me the EXACT opposite!

    I did appreciate the trainer telling me that squats were one of the best exercises (I did not know that and I am glad this video is consistent).

    BUT, the trainer had me working quads over and over again, even when I told him my knees were hurting! He said if I couldn’t unsupported squats then spread 30 mins on the leg extension machines or leg press machines. Those machines, while I was able to lift lots of weight, only hurt my knees more.

    I burned out! I quit going to the gym. I thought I had seriously had hurt myself beyond repair.

    This is a great video to refer to when I want to SLOWLY re-introduce squats into the workout.

    Thanks for clearing up the expensive misconceptions I paid for earlier.

  17. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on October 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    What you’re describing is actually very common and it happens in more than just personal training.

    I’ve seen many, many physical therapists having their patients doing the same thing…strengthening the quads without ever looking into the fact that our bodies are not meant to work in isolation.

    They are a functional unit designed to use many muscles to accomplish movements.

    One quick suggestion that may help you out…

    …If you’re not yet able to squat you can try using a cable machine and perform bent over rows. Just line the cable in front of you rather than toward the floor so it moves in a straight line toward you. That way it allows you to squat to your depth (whatever is comfortable for you) and conditions you into the squat pattern.

    You can progress your depth as you’re able.

    I’m happy to know my video helped you Mandi 🙂

  18. MarleneNo Gravatar on October 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    WOW! I’ve tried over and over again to do squats but all they is hurt my knees. I followed your suggestions and was able to do five without any pain!!! Thank you!!!!

  19. MonkeyfighterNo Gravatar on February 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Fuck! I have had these lower back and knee pain all the time, I thougt my knees were broken or so.. I’m gonna try it the way you showed it, I guess it’s gonna fix the problems, thank you very much man!

  20. IvanNo Gravatar on February 21, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I’ve been trying to work around knee pain for several years. Squatting heavy with poor form damaged them and I only made it worse by continuing to put pressure on my knees with a variety of activities. Nothing helped. Trainers and gym members told me that my form was good, so I thought that it was just my anatomy that wasn’t conducive to squatting. Xray and MRI showed no damage but the pain continued so I gave up squatting with weights, only doing bodyweight squats until they began to hurt.

    Just came across this video and tried it on a whim. I wasn’t expecting anything, but am now squatting without any pain besides normal soreness. No weights yet but this is already a remarkable difference. Thank you so much!

  21. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on March 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Right on Ivan! That’s awesome…I’ve NEVER once in 14 years I’ve been doing this seen anyone who cannot squat without pain as long as they’re activating the right muscles.

  22. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on March 2, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Cool man. Lemme know how it goes.

  23. lindapNo Gravatar on March 23, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Was worth a shot, but didn’t work for me.

  24. alinaNo Gravatar on March 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I am doing squats for 5 days and I have a terrible knee pain . I just want you to ask the pain is when the squats arent doing in the right way or these pain are normal -thanks for the video btw

  25. alinaNo Gravatar on March 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Hello . I am 15 years old and I started doing squats . Since ive started I ve got too much pain in my knees . Day by day the pain is bigger. Is that if I am doing wrong squats or is it a normal thing . Should I do exercises soon or should I stop. I mgonna wait for your answer . Thank you wery much ☺<<<

  26. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on April 3, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Having minor muscle pain is normal but having joint pain is not something you should be feeling.

    The knee pain can be fixed by correcting your technique.

  27. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on April 3, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Also, make sure you’re not doing squat workouts everyday. Gotta give your legs time to recover.

  28. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on April 3, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Hey Alina, I just replied to your other question but for now take some time off to give your knees a rest.

    After the pain resolves itself try squatting with just your own body weight so you can master the technique.

    If you have trouble then try squatting while holding a support like a pole, light weight dowel or something similar that’s stable.

    It’s not the exercise that’s hurting your knees. It’s just that you’ve gotta get the technique down with the right muscles working.

    Once you get it down you won’t feel pain in your knees.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  29. LeighNo Gravatar on April 17, 2014 at 9:19 am

    hmmm..been doing squats for years and since ive increased my weights recently, I have noticed knee pain. will try your suggestions. the instructors always say toes pointed out! thanks for posting this video!

  30. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on April 22, 2014 at 6:33 am

    lemme know how it works Leigh

  31. Erik BNo Gravatar on April 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    One last question remains for me: Do you recommend deep knee squats or stopping when the hips and knees are in line horizontally? Thanks.

  32. HankNo Gravatar on April 23, 2014 at 5:40 am

    Thanks for the informative video Mr.Yates.
    I have been having terrible knee pain the last few months. It all began when I started the Madcow 5×5 program.
    I really, REALLY like that program, but since beginning my knees have taken a major hit.
    Just bending down to pick something up sends waves of sharp knife-stabbing pain to my knee’s.
    I had basically given up on doing squats. The whole purpose of working out is so I can remain in good shape to play with my kids and grandkids. It seems like it’s doing the opposite.

    I’m going to try your recommendations and see if it helps.
    One question I have is, what is your opinion on ATG (arse-to-grass) squats?
    I’ve enjoyed that form more than parallel but want to make sure it’s safe and the proper way of squatting.


  33. MonicaNo Gravatar on May 6, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Great advice. This really helped my form and knees. The video and all the pointers were spot on. So glad I came across this!!

  34. EmilyNo Gravatar on May 12, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Very helpful! I was really frustrated with the knee pain I was experiencing while doing squats. Thank you for such a thorough explanation!

  35. KhalisNo Gravatar on May 17, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Very helpful. I’ve been doing daily bodyweight squats for about two months now. Yesterday, I had some discomfort in my right knee while squatting. After the workout, it stopped but started again in today’s session. I think it may have something to do with my wide stance and the fact that I try to keep my trunk as vertical as possible. Or maybe the reps are too high (80)?

  36. SarahNo Gravatar on May 26, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I only have pain right beside my knee’s on the inside when I squat. If I bend at work, run or bike I have no issues. It’s only while I do squats any clue what I might be doing wrong?

  37. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on June 2, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Hey Sarah,

    Sometimes it can just be an issue of over-thinking it too much. I used to have a couple clients who had the same type of issue. But, when they tried to do squats they got all caught up in over-thinking it and couldn’t do them.

    Try getting a bench and straddle it (one leg on each side) then just sit down as you would at work and stand back up.

    Don’t think about it but just do it and see what happens.

  38. BrettNo Gravatar on June 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Kevin,

    I started doing squats 3 months ago and developed knee pain so I put it on hold. I was doing feet pointed out so will try your style to see how it goes.
    My question is this: I am 6’8″ so obviously have long legs and trunk. Are there any adjustments I need to make for being so tall or do I just follow the video as outlined?

  39. HeatherNo Gravatar on June 8, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Kevin,

    I have knee pain already (outside of just doing squats). It occurs primarily when I go up OR down stairs, and when I am getting up out of a chair. I weigh way too much and I know it, and I have never had knee pain before a couple years ago but I’ve had it ever since.

    I have knock knees too, but I can’t see how my knees would ever not-knock (as you stated in an earlier reply) because if I extend my leg straight from a sitting position, my leg angles out from my knee down. I only mention it because I don’t know if it matters.

    The thing is, I just attempted a squat the way you said and both knees hurt pretty intensely when I was only a slight way down. I probably do not have good core strength. I have been going to the gym lately and the only thing that seems to work well is the individual machines because anything else hurts my knees. Even the leg press hurts my knees at approx 100+ lbs but it is a tolerable pain level while I am doing it.

    My question, even in proper form, is a squat something I should attempt at all or do I need to wait? I don’t know if my knee pain is caused solely by the weight or something else (my knees make sounds too, though it doesn’t *always* result in pain). If you do it in proper form but other body involved muscles are weak, will that still cause pain?

  40. amiNo Gravatar on June 19, 2014 at 12:20 am

    hi , i was doing squat yesterday and had tremendous pain in my knees just because i have made mistake that you have mentioned in video. now i do not know what to do. should i relax for few days or continue workout. as my instructor say that yest i had done leg exercise and that the reason for knee pain.

  41. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on July 7, 2014 at 6:27 am

    muscle pain and joint pain are very different. if you feel pain in your knee joints than it’s not just muscle soreness. it’s a warning that something is wrong. you can try the suggestions in my video to correct your squat. if your knees feel better as you perform the exercise then you should be ok to keep doing it. if your knees feel worse than rest up until the pain goes away and try again. by the way, any instructor that tells you joint pain is just from doing exercise is someone i would not want to have train me.

  42. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on July 7, 2014 at 6:49 am

    good question and here’s the thing…

    …yes, you do need to squat just because so much of what you do outside of the gym and in everyday life involves squatting. sitting down, getting in and out of your car, getting in and out of bed, bending down around the house or at work, even going to the bathroom 😉

    my point is that if you don’t correct it then squatting will continue to hurt your knees.

    in your situation there’s 3 issues that are likely causing your knee pain:

    1) a forward tilting of your pelvis (a.k.a ‘anterior pelvic tilt’) contributes to ‘knock knees’ which then causes

    2) core weakness particularly of your lower abs which help keep your pelvis in neutral alignment

    3) weak glutes (glute maximus and glute minimus) which are the muscles that control squatting and going up and down stairs. basically your glutes are designed to do the majority of the work and when they’re weak it causes more stress to your knees as they take the brunt of the force

    so to correct this I would first address the core which will put everything in alignment so you can then train the glutes.

    get yourself aligned using floor based exercises like I show in some of my videos on this blog and also in my program ‘The Muscle Imbalance Solution’ which I originally wrote for personal trainers however it has helped many people who aren’t trainers get rid of nagging pain and injuries.

    once you get to where you’re doing things right on the floor then work your way to standing exercises.

    hope this helps 🙂

  43. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on July 7, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Hey Brett,

    I’ve experimented with squatting over the last year or so and I’m finding that a lot depends on your hip structure. However, try squatting the way I suggest and see if that fixes your pain. If not, just squat down naturally as if you were a caveman telling a story at a campfire. Lame example I know but it’s all I can think of right now 😉

    Anyway, allow your feet to go where they naturally feel comfortable including the width of your stance. Rock yourself around in this bottom position. You’re looking for what feels comfortable and natural for you.

    Once you have it stand up without moving your feet.

    Notice if there’s any significant differences in foot position or leg position between right and left sides. If not, then try squatting from there and see how it feels. You should have no pain if everything’s good.

    If you’ve got some noticeable differences then it’s suggestive of muscular imbalances that need to be addressed at a deeper level than I can give you here but I do have in my program ‘The Muscle Imbalance Solution’. Although I wrote it for personal trainers it’s helped many people who are not trainers to get rid of their pain and injuries: http://functionaltrainingcoach.com/muscleimbalancesolution

  44. pain rehabNo Gravatar on July 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Heya! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your
    posts! Keep up the outstanding work!

  45. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on July 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Hey Heather,

    I just posted a video on your question as this is something that affects a lot of people.

    Here you go and hope this helps you 🙂

  46. aliNo Gravatar on July 10, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    my name is ali and i m 34 years old 6’2″ ,i have back problem, my lower disks are dehydrated L4 and L5 and due to that i have pain in my back almost all the time and for some reasons my knees are weak and doing squats even without any weight makes my knees hurt and i feel if it will burn from inside and sometimes my right knee just locks and i cant move my leg. i use knee wraps when i squats but it still hurts. i want to do squats to improve my health but this problem of mine is not letting me do so.
    can you help me so that i can achieve my goal.

  47. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on July 11, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Here you go Ali…hope this helps you 🙂


  48. BrettNo Gravatar on July 17, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks for the response!


  49. SJNo Gravatar on August 30, 2014 at 4:23 am

    thanks for this video. i was having knee pain while doing squats always and today i did the the squat while you were explaining and dramatically there was no knee pain. thanks again.

  50. SJNo Gravatar on August 30, 2014 at 4:29 am


    I have PF syndrome . Was wondering if keeping toes straight is the right posture for me ? And I feel alot better with knee pain as I mentioned earlier but still would like to know more about it.

  51. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on September 1, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Not sure what you mean by ‘PF syndrome’ but if your pain is gone that tells you something.

  52. RemiNo Gravatar on September 29, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Hey Kevin,

    I had given up squatting at the gym because of chronic knee pain. After watching your video on keeping the feet parallel instead of splayed out to the sides, I decided to give it a try because what did I have to lose? Today I did 3 sets of 6 front squats with a light barbell…and had no pain at all. Wow! Will keeping the feet parallel also work for back squats as I go heavier? I’m very limber and have no problem doing a full squat as long as my knees don’t hurt.

    THANK YOU very much for resuscitating my squats. It means a LOT to me!


  53. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on October 1, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Yep, it works for all squatting and deadlifting too…Glad to hear you’re squatting pain free 🙂

  54. AlanNo Gravatar on October 22, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Hi Kevin,

    Someone asked this question above and I didn’t see a good answer to it; what is the proper depth for a squat? The majority of information out there says top of the legs parallel to the floor or hips in line with knees.


  55. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on October 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Here’s a link to a video I did that explains squat depth. Hope this helps 🙂


  56. AlanNo Gravatar on October 30, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks Kevin! I’ll give this a try, I’ve really been struggling with knee pain doing squats and just trying to eliminate one variable at a time.


  57. RobertNo Gravatar on February 2, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks so much Kevin! This really helped me out, as I’ve been having issues squatting whenever I lift. I used to get this sharp pain in the middle-outside part of my knee but this really seemed to clear things up. I was wondering: do the same principles apply when you are squatting with heavy loads? I want to make sure before I max again, and so that when I do, it is painless.


  58. […] 5 reasons your knees hurt squatting & how to instantly fix […]

  59. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on February 6, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Yep, same rules apply always Robert 🙂

  60. Proper Squat and Lunge Form | Fitness With Jess on March 17, 2015 at 11:16 am

    […] are some resources: Proper squat form (fast forward into the video till about 2:50 to skip discussion and get right to […]

  61. fran RoseNo Gravatar on March 20, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    One of the best exercise videos ever. When I told my trainer the squat hurt my knees, his comment– and everyone else’s — was “it shouldn’t.” But it did. Now I watched this video and am full of hope. Thanks, Kevin. F.

  62. biancaNo Gravatar on March 24, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    i have such a dificilut time to quatt i dont know how to do it if i sit like in a chair i fall beckwords

  63. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on March 25, 2015 at 4:55 am

    That just means you need to strengthen your abs and glutes. They aren’t being activated which is why you fall backwards.

  64. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on March 25, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Squats aren’t supposed to hurt but yes, unfortunately they do for a LOT of people.

    Not because they’re a bad exercise but because most people aren’t taught how to squat properly.

    They’re taught about exercise position but not enough about how to activate the right muscles within the exercise.

    I’m glad my video helped you 🙂

  65. […] Here’s great info from trainer Kevin Yates: […]

  66. EmilyNo Gravatar on April 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Hey so yesterday i did 80 squats i dont know why but actually i did the belly fat excersize i did 30 jumpin jacks 40 crunches and 40 squats then 30 leg lifts for each leg then 40 squats then run for 10 minutes. Do i have to go to the doctor cause i cant go down the stairs or walk idk how im going to go to school tmw and i have chores to do its so hard please help me. I know this has nothing to do with the video ‘(

  67. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on April 15, 2015 at 8:11 am

    If it isn’t getting significantly better within a week or if you feel you injured yourself then I would get it looked at.

  68. IzziNo Gravatar on May 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    I’m doing everything it says in the video but it still really hurts my knees and I don’t feel anything in my butt!!
    Everyones always saying that squats require your bum but it doesn’t do anything!!
    Please help

  69. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on June 3, 2015 at 10:28 am

    You may have some mobility issues going on that’s keeping you from doing the movement properly. Tough to say without being able to see you. Try lying on the floor on your stomach and squeeze your glutes…see if you can feel them working…if not that’s a problem and if so then try lying on your back and perform a bridge (hips up squeezing your glutes)…again see if you feel it right there…if so do a few sets and then try the squat again….maybe perform squats straddling a bench to see if you can get it.

  70. Jillian MaloneNo Gravatar on August 10, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Kevin, it is not a myth that squatting places more stress through the knees. To be precise, it places more stress through the back of the knee cap (patellofemoral joint). There is a great deal of research out there which has shown forces through the back of the patella to increase up to 20 times your body weight when performing a deep squat. If an indvidual does not have perfect ‘patella tracking’ (regardless of good squat technique), this is likely to lead to anterior knee pain. I see this all the time in my physiotherapy clinic where clients have been squatting repeatedly for fitness and have ended up with pain. Once pain develops, or tracking is not addressed, chondromalacia patella can develop and people with this are likely to find deep squats painful regardless of technique! : )

  71. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on August 12, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Hey Jill,

    I get what you’re saying about patella tracking issues and your comment sparked some thoughts.

    Here’s the thing Jill…I did not say squatting doesn’t place more stress through the knees nor did I say that was a myth.

    Of course there’s also an increase in stress through the hips and spine as well.

    And, given that most people do not perform the squat properly (even experienced fitness enthusiasts and athletes) it would be interesting to see how many in the research done had even more stress to the knees due to improper muscle activation patterns.

    That’s not always easy to see since technique can appear to be correct and the assumption that technique is all there is to proper performance of an exercise is inaccurate.

    Even if there are forces through the back of the patella that can increase up to 20 times body weight when performing a deep squat then what do say when someone who’s lived with chronic knee pain to the point where they couldn’t do the most functional tasks and couldn’t squat even halfway without pain…

    …but you show them how to properly perform the squat (and lunges) and they can squat, bend, kneel down, sit, stand and move pain free?

    Research in books and all is great but, for me, I’m testing real world results and if what I’m doing is helping people become pain free (as you can see the amount of positive feedback in the string of comments below and lots more of them on my YouTube channel in response to this video) then I’m sticking with it.

    Also, regarding your mention of pain with proper squat technique…I specifically mentioned in the video that ‘proper technique’ is one of the problems with squatting in that people are taught technique and can indeed have what looks like proper technique however if they’re emphasizing the wrong muscles they’ll end up with pain and/or injury.

    Your statement basically makes my point so then you do agree with me on that.

    That’s why I don’t teach technique Jill. I teach proper muscle activation.

    Which is why it’s even more critical to make sure there’s proper mobility and the correct muscle activation patterns.

    Most chronic pain patterns are caused by muscle imbalances (There’s plenty of research that shows this which I’m sure as a physiotherapist you’re aware of).

    It’s important to understand that not everyone with anterior knee pain has a patellar tracking issue and although those issues can be caused by an isolated injury it’s often a muscle imbalance issue that leads to improper movement patterns and can result in patellar tracking problems.

    I’ve seen this countless times not only in physical therapy clinics but also in working with athletes and the general population. Chondromalacia patella a.k.a. patellofemoral pain syndrome or ‘runner’s knee’ are issues stemming from muscular imbalances, movement restrictions and compensation strategies.

    Squatting is a part of everyday life and you can’t avoid it.

    Sitting down, getting in and out of bed, using the toilet, picking things up off the floor, and on and on it goes.

    Since squatting is a fundamental and needed movement people need to understand how to be able to properly perform the movement.

    Doing so can help alleviate stress to the knees by sharing the load more evenly with the glutes and hamstrings for example.

    I’m not saying if a patellar tracking problem exists that it shouldn’t be addressed. It should definitely.

    But, squats are not the knee destoyers that they’re often thought to be. At least not if performed properly.

    Furthermore, just because someone feels pain when squatting doesn’t mean they shouldn’t squat.

    Most of the time it’s a matter of identifying the imbalance and correcting it and you’ll see a big improvement in pain reduction right away.

    In over 15 years I have yet to see one person (this includes people who’ve had knee replacements, hip replacements, acl, pcl, mcl reconstruction, meniscus surgeries, arthroscopic surgeries and back surgeries) who could not squat without pain provided they performed the movement correctly. Not one.

  72. MichelleNo Gravatar on August 15, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Great tutorial! I found it was actually easier to do my squats when I cleaned up my position! Thanks!

  73. ryanNo Gravatar on September 12, 2015 at 8:33 am


  74. HaydenNo Gravatar on October 11, 2015 at 7:11 am

    I’m from Hong Kong and recently need to involve squat in my 5 by 5workout routine. Glad to watch your video in a early stage. I was using my quad to press me up. I’ll now change my form. Thanks very much.

  75. Erica WilsonNo Gravatar on October 29, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Hi Kevin,

    Thank you for your video and discussion on how to avoid knee pain from squatting! I have recently increased weight on the barbell while squatting and have noticed the pain in my knees even when I’m in bed or sitting on the bus. I will try your technique of activating abs and glutes while squatting, hopefully this pain will go away because I really felt like I was achieving gains and getting a nicely toned backside until the pain started! Can’t wait to see how it goes at the gym later today. 😊

  76. PraxNo Gravatar on November 8, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Thank you so much 🙂

  77. YozerNo Gravatar on November 14, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I did several reps of squats with bodyweight only and I got knee pain that lasted a couple of weeks. I’m in my teen years btw, so could I have injured any growth plates?

  78. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on November 17, 2015 at 7:04 am

    It’s highly unlikely you damaged a growth plate.

    The most likely case is that you have imbalances that caused stress to your knee.

    Hopefully, it’s nothing serious.

    Do you have swelling, discoloration, loss of mobility, loss of strength?

    If it hasn’t improved by now you may want to have your doctor look at it to see if you have a more serious injury.

  79. KathyNo Gravatar on November 30, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    It does things like slows the heart beat, lowers
    blood pressure, opens blood vessels to the skin, etc.
    The purpose of this treatment is to stimulate the pathways in the body
    and remove the blockage in the flow of energy. Most Asian countries,
    including China, Japan, and Korea have their own forms of this helpful procedure.

  80. KellyNo Gravatar on February 2, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Hi there, what is your recommendation for depth? I have a pain free squat, but I find if I don’t toe out a bit, it feels,as though my hips lock at a certain depth.

  81. AlastairNo Gravatar on May 19, 2016 at 1:22 am

    Hi Kevin. Very helpful video. I have tried the technique you have advised and it is really working well. Before I was using the weight machines for my leg exercises, but the following couple of days my knees always felt weak and sore. Doing the squats you have advised I have found I no longer suffer those adverse consequences.

    Thank you Kevin

  82. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on May 26, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Excellent! Glad to hear that 🙂

  83. JulieNo Gravatar on July 12, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Wow! What a difference! My knees have always hurt when doing squats, but after watching your video and changing my stance/form squatting feels much better and more effective. Thanks for the tips!!

  84. JenniferNo Gravatar on August 9, 2016 at 11:06 am

    This is an amazing tutorial. My knees had been bothering me for quite sometime now when I would perform squats and lunges. I really just thought I may have weighed to much to be doing them, when actually I was using improper form. After watching this video, and using proper form, I am now knee pain free. Thank you so much!!!

  85. KathrynNo Gravatar on August 19, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Oh my gosh!! Finally, a tutorial that takes me through each step and explains exactly what to do at each point, and why on earth my knees are so sore after I was doing squats improperly! You have no idea (or maybe you do 🙂 how happy this makes me. There are so many workout classes I’ve taken where the instructor has us put our feet waaay out wide with our toes at an angle and we dip our bums way below our knees.
    Anyway, thank you for this, I’m most grateful.

  86. ElleNo Gravatar on August 25, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Helpful! Thank you.

  87. Kathy BrasseurNo Gravatar on September 16, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Thank you. Knees feel better. I am feeling it more in my lower side back is that normal for an out of shape 55 year old? Thanks.

  88. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on September 19, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Awesome Kathy!

    Glad my video helped. Here’s the answer to your question: http://functionaltrainingcoach.com/how-to-stop-low-back-pain-during-squats

  89. shariNo Gravatar on September 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    great video – but you shouldn’t wear big baggy clothes when you are demonstrating fitness moves – it is hard to see what your body is doing under all that drapery.

  90. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on October 10, 2016 at 11:35 am

    You mean you don’t absolutely love my wardrobe Shari? 😉

  91. JayNo Gravatar on October 11, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Functional training nonsense. If your “core” or any part of your body is too weak to perform a proper squat with the bar, then you’re either not squatting properly or you need to use a lighter weight. Gradually increase the weight, every workout–maybe only 2.5#s, maybe 5, maybe 10. If you’re using proper form, then your core and everything else will get stronger.

  92. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on October 12, 2016 at 8:17 am

    You would think that would be the case Jay but not always. There are issues that aren’t so easily fixed by using ‘proper form’ as you suggest.

    First off, this post isn’t just about squatting with a bar. It’s about performing the exercise.

    When somebody can’t even perform a proper bodyweight squat then there’s no way I’d load a bar (or any weight) on their body as it’ll reinforce the problem rather than make it better.

    There are many issues keep people from being able to do use proper form when squatting.

    Joint restrictions which are not so easily fixed by squatting with proper form.

    Neurological issues where the pathway to activating certain muscles isn’t efficient which then causes problems that cannot simply be fixed by proper form.

    Pain and injuries that often result from muscle imbalances and cannot simply be fixed by putting a bar on someones back and having them squat (it can make the pain and injuries worse though).

    Poor mobility which influences movement, muscle activation, stability and strength.

    Not to mention that some people aren’t suited for squatting with a bar either due to the issues above.

    And, squatting with a bar isn’t going to fix a weak core if somebody cannot properly activate the right core muscles.

    You don’t improve performance of an exercise by doing the exercise.

    You need to identify the cause of the problem which isn’t improper form by itself but the reason WHY there’s improper form.

    Fix that and the form will improve.

  93. GeorgiNo Gravatar on October 24, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Hello. Very helpful video. I think that I’m doing the exercise right(I might be wrong) , but a few days after it my left knee starts to hurt. It never hurts while I’m doing the exercise itself, but only after that. And its allways the same knee. Then after I go to a swimming training it gets better until the next time I do something like squats. Do you know what the reason could be or should I ask a doctor? This is happening from about a month.
    Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter

  94. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on October 27, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Not sure on that one and your doc is unlikely to have the answer.

    Even so, it’s being caused by HOW you’re performing the movement rather than the movement itself.

    The best bet is to study how you’re moving through the squat and what you’re feeling while you perform the movement.

    Do you feel your knee during it at all?

    Are your glutes working or is it all in your quads?

    Are your hips and/or knees moving forward as you drop down into the squat?

    Also, you didn’t mention where in the knee you get pain which is important. For example, is it on the inner side of the knee,
    under the knee cap, above the knee cap, etc…

    Finally, feel for any restrictions while you squat.

    Meaning, is there any part of the movement where you feel a joint or muscle restriction (ex: hip, knee, ankle, thigh, etc..)

    If you notice any of what I mentioned here it’ll direct you on what you need to work on to be able to squat without pain.

  95. Jamie LeeNo Gravatar on October 29, 2016 at 4:53 am

    I made sense of this video however you didn’t address the issue of people falling back when they try to do a proper squat? What is the reason for his?

  96. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on October 30, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Hey Jamie,

    When someone falls backward on the descent or at the bottom of a squat it’s typically caused by a lack of eccentric strength in the abs and hips.

    So, as those muscles lengthen they become mechanically weaker which is why a lot of times you’ll see people excessively lean forward at the bottom if these muscles lose their ability to hold at the bottom.

  97. MiaNo Gravatar on November 17, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Where’s the list of “How To INSTANTLY Fix It”?

  98. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on November 19, 2016 at 7:39 am

    In the video and in the 5 mistakes listed in the post.

  99. TaraNo Gravatar on December 12, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Iv been having a lot of trouble doing squats because my quadriceps take over, I even have pain at the top of my quadriceps. Just can’t seem to get my other
    muscle to engage. Also how far down should I go?
    I really want to get the hang of it !

  100. CaiNo Gravatar on December 12, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Is good and informative but my problem is doing a full asian squat. I used to be alright but since i started my badminton game session, I can’t do a full squat as i feel pain not around my knees, but is under my knee cap and i feel tightness behind my knees too. I have NO pain going up and down stairs and doing half squat.
    I am not sure if is strained muscle or injury? Or tension i need to release..

  101. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on December 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Hey Tara, I just did a video on this you can check out. Hopefully this’ll help you out: http://functionaltrainingcoach.com/is-your-brain-causing-knee-pain/

  102. Kevin YatesNo Gravatar on December 15, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Hey Cai, I just did this blog post and video to help you out. Lemme know how it goes: http://functionaltrainingcoach.com/5-reasons-you-should-asian-squat/

  103. CaiNo Gravatar on December 18, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Kevin,
    Thank you for the video. I have shared it with my niece. She feels her knees too having some problem. We borh play badminton together.
    I have tried doing all ways for the squat and it still hurts ..i am wondering if anything to do with my meniscus as I have known lots of sports active people got theirs torn amd injured. I will continue to practise the squatting. It is really frustrating to loose something that one could do before 🙁
    Thank you once again. Hope to have some good news. Have a great day !

  104. Andreea BebeNo Gravatar on December 20, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Thank you for this valuable information. I think it might just solved this knee pain i’m recently having from trying a jump on surface squat.

  105. NickyNo Gravatar on January 8, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Video v. Knee. The disgusting crunching I had practicing squats disappeared. I still had the sound with my knees behind my ankles, but didn’t realize I was still leaning forward-I thought I wasn’t. I still grabbed onto my kitchen island for support, but this time tried to see how far back I could sit- with my shoulders and head aligned over my butt and squatting-no crunching sound! The video was right I hadn’t realized the front top half was leaning forward and was the problem-I also feel my glutes and stomach engage more instead of mostly my quads. To let you know the extent of my previous damage: I’ve had ay least 10+ times of turning my knee out, 1 very bad, 2x’s not being able to walk 1 collapsing, 1 waking up that way before the age 25yrs. I fell with both knees hitting metal with both excruciating and numbing pain on the outside of knee caps, I also had a day were I had to use a cane or push chair in my house to get around because for a reason I think I attempted an exercise or lean and then I couldn’t even walk it was the most excruciating. The way you do things and exercise matter the most. I’ve always ate healthy and have never taken aspirin or cold medicine etc I wasn’t raised that way. I might of had some lack of sleep, but I believe now the way we hold our bodies all the time posture wise, and perform day to day duties with work, children, & exercise have the biggest impact. I’ve had 4 children am not 35 yet and have better knees now & learned how to lift heavy weight upper & lower on every machine in a gym except 1(it looks like a squat machine with something on your shoulders- that would hurt my knees), but I could do leg machines sitting down with the weight equal to mine 128lbs, I even liked giving pointers to others because I understand knee pain. I want others to have hope, understanding, maybe have a mirror/someone watch you or a physical therapist to hold you at the right alignment and let you know just like the video what muscles should feel engaged. I just focused on exercises I knew didn’t lead to pain, or some ab exercises like leg lifts or something new took me a month to realize I developed acid reflux from-I never would of thought there could be a connection. When your getting a different result from your body good or bad, ask what in my lifestyle have I changed-some are theories, some might be the result of more than one thing or something not done properly for our body type. I like to help, because when I look for answers it is nice when someone helps for free out of genuine empathy for others, thanks!

  106. LisaNo Gravatar on January 16, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    I was performing the squat exercise ALL WRONG! The ineffective body positioning when squatting is what I was doing. I have knee pain now from doing 200 squats the WRONG way. I’m glad I saw this video! I just tried to do a squat the right way, and it does feel awkward. I do tip over trying to keep my balance. I’ll keep practicing until I become comfortable.

Leave a Comment