Why Does My Knee Hurt During Crossfit?


Why Does My Knee Hurt During Crossfit?

If you’re like many of our clients, you may have joined a Crossfit gym to improve your overall health and fitness (or you may be a member that has been going for years), only to find yourself dealing with knee pain.

You may be wondering why this is happening, what exactly you have hurt, or if you should be concerned that you’ve done serious damage.

First, we want to say that Crossfit is overall a very safe and effective way to exercise. Injury rates in Crossfit tend to be about 1-3 injuries per 1,000 participation hours (PMID: 28085123), which is pretty low and is comparable to other barbell sports such as powerlifting, weightlifting, and bodybuilding. In fact, Crossfit has arguably done more to get the average person to participate in resistance training than any other style of training, which is absolutely a good thing.

Now, the main reason that people develop knee pain while participating in Crossfit is overall somewhat simple, they do more knee-dominant exercise than what their knee (or knees) can handle at that point in time.

If you think about it, many of the lower body exercises that are done in Crossfit involve the knees quite heavily:

  • Squats
  • Cleans and snatches
  • Box jumps
  • Running
  • Wall balls
  • Biking
  • Rowing
  • Lunges

These movements are staples of many Crossfit workouts, and stress the knees quite hard. That doesn’t inherently mean that they are bad for yourknees, but if the work that you are asking your knees to do exceeds the amount of work that they can handle, then you may develop knee pain.

On top of that, many of the above-mentioned movements are examples of plyometric exercises, which can be very demanding on our bodies. If you aren’t used to doing plyometrics, or haven’t built up the capacity to handle them in stressful workouts, then you might find yourself dealing with knee pain at some point.

The good thing about this is that you most likely have not caused any serious, long-term damage to your knees by what you’ve been doing in your Crossfit workouts.

Most people that we see with knee pain from Crossfit don’t have significant ligament ruptures that compromise the knee joint, they tend to have more of these overuse style injuries which can absolutely be reversed. 

The way that you go about solving most cases of knee pain from Crossfit is by reducing the volume or intensity of the exercises that cause your knee pain to flare up, such as squats, cleans, snatches, box jumps etc until your knees start to feel better.

From there, you want to build up the stress/exercise tolerance of your knees over time to ensure that they can handle the demands of Crossfit style training. You can do this by slowly increasing volume and intensity of your Crossfit workouts, and/or by including specific exercises used to target the knees directly.

If you are struggling with knee pain during your Crossfit workouts and are looking for help from a team of experts click the button below to request a free phone consult to see if we can help you solve your knee pain and get back to the Crossfit workouts you love!

Want To Get Relief Faster?

Choose which option works best for you…


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."