Squatting After A Knee Injury

One day you’re in the gym doing a hard set of squats and then BAM, your knee starts to hurt and you feel like it’s going to buckle underneath you. You rack the weight and wonder to yourself “what just happened?!”

You give it a couple of days to rest and then go back to the gym to try squatting again, except this time you can’t even squat the bar without knee pain. This is an incredibly common situation, and one that we see very often with our patients. Unfortunately, most lifters in this situation will take a long time off from squatting, either on their own or because a healthcare provider like a doctor or physical therapist will tell them that they should.

However, this is usually the last thing that you want to do. When you simply take a long time off from a certain lift, you become de-trained, and when you do try to get back to that lift, it’s going to be even harder.

Instead, usually the best path is to find ways to continue to train the injured knee and modify the squat so that it can be done comfortably. This will help you preserve strength and muscle mass in that leg, while allowing an easier return to regular squatting when you are ready.

Examples of exercises that can be useful to continue training the knee during this time are:

  • TKEs
  • Split squat variations
  • Spanish squat variations

On top of these, it is important to continue squatting to some manner while addressing your knee pain. The best ways to do this are by using squat variations that still allow you to train hard, but limit the weight on the bar.

Some of our favorite variations include:

  • Tempo box squats
  • Slow eccentric squats with pauses in the bottom
  • Constant tension goblet squats

The trick to this is figuring out how much to stress the knee and which specific squat variations are best for you at different times during the rehab process.

If this is something you’re struggling with, and you’re looking for help on how to resolve your knee pain so that you can get back to squatting the way you want to, click the button below to book a call with our team!


Ryan VanNieuwenhuyze

Barbell Physical Therapy & Performance

"We Help Active Adults, Lifters, And Athletes Solve Their Pain And Get Back To The Workouts And Sports They Enjoy Without Medication, Surgery, Or Stopping The Activities They Love."