Why Do My Knees Hurt When I Squat?

There are so many ways to do a squat.... With barbells, without barbells, with the barbell in front, with the barbell on your back, with dumb bells, kettlebells, resistance bands, on a machine, etc. etc. So it’s fair to say that there’s no one perfect way to do a squat. But if you’re getting pain in the knees while you do this exercise, you’re going to want to read on...

Let’s focus on that pain you feel on the inside of the knee, where you’re medial collateral ligament (MCL) and other soft tissue structures live. If you’re missing some range of motion in your hips, this can affect your form BIG TIME and ultimately put a lot of stress on those medial (middle/inside) tissues. One tell-tale sign of missing that range of motion in your hips during a squat is when you’re knees start to (almost romantically) get closer to each other. This is called a “valgus collapse” - when the knees begin to point towards one another instead of pointing forwards or slightly outwards.

Signs that you’re missing range of motion in your hips...

  • Constant back pain
  • Your knees begin to collapse towards eachother when you squat
  • Pain in the knees
  • When "pigeon pose" feels like less relaxing and more like you lost a bet

Of course, you’ll want to get assessed by a professional before you begin treating it. Know the problem before you come up with a solution.

Sometimes it’s a quick fix, sometimes it requires a little more focused attention. But here are a few ways to get you started on your recovery.


  • Pigeon pose: work slowly into it, utilizing a block to rest the knee in a comfortable position (read “challenging but tolerable”)
    • Use the contract/relax method as an alternative to a static stretch
  • Seek a sports massage therapist to focus on the following muscles: tensor fascia latae (TFL), gluteus medius, hip adductors (inside of the thigh)
  • Foam roll or use a *lacrosse ball on the side of the hip
    • perform with caution to avoid irritating the sciatic nerve

Once you’re hips are feeling nice and loosey-goosey, start training with a resistance band over your thighs, just above the knees. Using a training technique called Reactive Neuromuscular Facilitation (RNT), the focus here is to push out the knees while resisting the force of the band.

Start with those mobility drills and corrective exercises but you are welcome to compliment them with kinesiology taping and natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric or CBD lotion. Colorado locals, you can find some of THE BEST organic, non-psychoactive medicinals online where full spectrum Lichen Livin’ products are sold .

Of course, when it comes to joint pain, it’s important to understand exactly what the pain is and if the solution is as simple as a few stretches and sets. Know the SOURCE of the problem to get the best possible results.