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Knee and Squat Paranoia


I'm sure this question has been asked before, but I would like some input and advice with the situation.

Okay I have in and out of doctor offices for the last couple of weeks dealing with a liver issue. My liver is fine thank god, I have stopped most supplementation and rely heavily on whole foods now though.

Anyway, back to the point so I've been in and out of so many waiting rooms and I have been worried for so many weeks that I need some other way to discuss my problems than just calling a doctor.

I have a slight pain in my right knee when I go below parallel with my squat. There is a clicking sound whenever I squat that low inside or outside of the gym. My knee doesn't click on any other exercise and it doesn't hurt. Now one of the trainers in my gym said I was going to low and taking my knee out of a correct range of motion, because as I have read the knee has a gliding range of motion and somehow going that deep might knock mine of it's "track".

I have heard that 90 degrees is weak for your knees and then again I've heard that going to low places tremendouse shearing forces on the knee.

I don't understand why squatting seems so hard for me. I have read alot of articles and posted before. I have improved in my squatting but I can't go ass to the grass. Will just going to parallel rob me of all the benefits?

Any hope or comfort on the issue would be greatly appreciated and any words you have would make my training efforts that much more enjoyable.

Thanks in advance.



First, if you are feeling pain while you are doing something, you should probably stop doing it.

Anyway, no matter what some people feel about squatting deep, if you are able to make it to parallel you are doing just fine.

So, if squatting to parallel doesn't cause you knee issues, your problem is solved. If it does still cause issues, then you'll have to accept that (though a professional assessment would be good).

In such a case, you can use exercises such as, for example, the leg press, the leg curl, lunges, good mornings, back extensions, glute/ham raises, deadlifts and perhaps others. Basically, there are many ways to work your muscles -- so if you can't use some lifts, find others that you can.

If it means slightly slower progress or that some folks will give you grief because you aren't following their dogmatic ideas, so be it. Whatever you do, take care of your knees and back first.


First off, the knee is a hinge joint (A convex projection on one bone fits into a concave depression in another permitting only flexion and extension as in the elbow and knee joints)! So it's not in a "track" something with a "track" would something like a saddle joint (thumb).



Could also be tight hips and IT Bands, do some streches for those regularily may help.


That sucks man. But there are plenty of benefits to be had from squatting to parallel. What are your goals and reasons for squatting? Powerlifting, olympic lifting, recreation, sports, etc?

Also, run a search on box squats. They are probably the least stressful form of squats on your knee because they teach you to sit far back. Done right, your shins rarely pass 90 degrees to the floor. Not that this necessarily be a problem for those without existing knee issues. If you really want to squat, you'll take my advice and see how it works for you.

And don't do anything that hurts, plain and simply.

Let me know how it works for you.



I have weird knees too. So I only squat to parallel. It feels fine to me and there's plenty of benefit.

So many who go ATG use such a massive bounce to get out of the hole that I think they're MORE likely to get an injury. As well, many lack the flexibility to keep a neutral spine at rock bottom.

I say go down until it feels intense, yet still comfortable. As soon as you feel a 'not cool' feeling, you know you've gone an inch or two too far.


I'm the opposite. Trying to turn around at parallel kills my knees. ATG squats make them crack and pop, but there is no pain. Mine are damaged from basketball - basic mashed-up cartilage from too many hard landings. Squatting has definitely improved them though.


Just adding my own anecdote in case it helps you decide what to do.

Before I started squatting, I had occasional knee pain. I started taking glucosamine and MSM around the same time I started squatting, and ever since then my knees have been completely fine, even if I knock them against something. I don't know exactly how much the supplementation is helping my knees, but it's definitely possible to improve knee health while squatting. Some people believe that heavy loading even stimulates the production of cartilage in joints.

A couple of weeks ago I tried exploiting the stretch reflex while doing squats a bit below parallel. Knees hurt for most of a week.


Here is my story...
I had/have a left knee problem. Ive had an MRI that was concluded that all I have is swelling under the knee cap at times and there is no structural damage there. So it lead me to believe that it might be a soft tissue issue which it was, trigger points in the VMO, IT band and Vastus Laterus. Ive seen the local PT here who through deep tissue massage, contract/relax stretching and various drills blessed me off as good. For the most part, my knee agrees with him as I can sprint, jump, do hindu squats, and sumo style deadlift with no localized knee pain.

Let me try to squat under load though, and she goes in the tank. I can usually get about 40 or so reps of various set and rep ranges with 135 or only around 10 or so in the 200 range before she gives out on me again. This is when going to "parallel" which Im told is deeper than most peoples parallel and going ass to grass. I had the PT watch me(who also happens to be a CSCS strenght coach back in the states to give him some credence) and said for the most part my form is near flawless. Anyhow, my knee pain is more medial area of the patella and is a sharp pain.
Im guessing Im tring to come back to fast and forcing it. IM going to back off continue to deadlift and on squat day just do sprints and hindus sqauts.


Ive been looking around for good knee braces/bands and found these. They seem to be quite the rage, anyone have any input on them?




The joint's a little more complex than that. Consider this from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website:

"For simplicity, the knee is considered a hinge joint because of its ability to bend and straighten like a hinged door. In reality, the knee is much more complex because the surfaces actually roll and glide as the knee bends."

The joint is not a pure hinge, because it allows a fair amount of rotation and gliding of the tibia on the femur. Also, the upper surface of the tibia is more flat than concave.

There are some slight concave depressions on the top of the tibia for each of the femural condyles to fit into and the femur does glide across the top of the tibia a little bit, but there really is no "track" from a bone standpoint, as the tibia can still rotate slightly.

The reason the knee is the most injured joint in the body is because it is essentially a round femural end sitting on top of a mostly flat tibialar cartilage surface. The only thing holding it in place firmly is ligament and muscle.

The sense of fitting into a track in flexion is actually caused by a tightening of the knee ligaments. What happens is that at parallel, the knee's ligaments are at their slackest. As the knee passes 90 degrees into greater flexion, the ligaments tighten up, greatly stabilizing the knee and reducing the amount of rotation experienced between the fibia and the femur.

This also happens as the knee extends and approaches full lock out. The knee ligaments tighten up and actually lock out the knee with a slight twist, usually referred to as the "screw home" mechanism.

So this is the general reasoning that most people cite for going beyond parallel, saying that the knee is much more stable past 90 degs due to the ligaments tightening up. And it's maybe also a reason why you're not supposed to fully lockout your knee at the top of a squat, because of that last slight bit of rotation at full lockout and hyper extension.

I found a decent site that shows how the surfaces of the knee glide and rotate across each other during flexion and extension. http://moon.ouhsc.edu/dthompso/namics/kneeak.htm