T Nation

Knee Pain from High Bar Squats?

Hey,
Maybe someone has some input on this.

Recently I started lifting again after taking a two month break from it (I still worked out, dabbled with calisthenics, did sports etc). I picked a 5x5 template to get back to my old numbers ASAP (the old stronglifts one, with dips and chins as assistance). Two weeks in, my right knee started cracking on the descent when I squatted (high bar, medium stance, slightly below parallel, olympic shoes).

Right now I’m at 175 for 5x5 with a 5 pound increase each workout and there’s a numb pain right underneath my right knee cap. I’m a bit worried, to say the least, especially since the weight I comparatively light and I’m still in my twenties - I’m somewhat afraid of ending up with a bum knee before the big 30.

Any thoughts?

do you do any glute activation in your warm up? Any side clams? 90% of the time knee pain is your knee collapsing in a little so if you’re not doing side clams then try adding those to your warm up.

my other guess would be something wrong with your form. Are you breaking at the hips?

I’m breaking at the hip. A minor knee break may have sneaked in since I read that Bret Contreras article recently… I need to check this. All I do to warm up right now is five minutes on the bike, jumps, goblet squats and then plenty of warm up sets. Do you think bridges and side crabs could solve the issue?

It depends on the specific cause of your knee pain. Over an Internet forum with no picture or video to critique it’s pretty tough to diagnose what form breakdowns might be causing you pain.

Your knee pain could be:

  • the result of tight adductors which are pulling your knees out of alignment
    -the result of your arches collapsing/weak Tibialis Posterior or Peroneals
    -the result of tight ankles/Soleus muscles which are pulling your heels too far off the ground and this putting your weight on the balls of your feet rather than the mid foot or heels
    -failing to try to “spread the floor/press out against the walls with your knees”
    -poor Glute activation or mobility and thus incorrect hip joint movement

Without a video it’s tough to tell really, and even then diagnosing the exact cause can be tricky. What it would give us though would be at least a decent focal point to give you some things that might help.

Also, if you do take a video, try to get a few from different angles (straight on, from the side, and one from the waist down rather than just one angle for multiple repetitions. That’ll likely be of more benefit to us in critiquing your form.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Do you think bridges and side crabs could solve the issue?[/quote]

hopefully! Side clams worked like magic for me when I tried them in my warm up.

I’ll try to film a few sets tomorrow, I was in too much of a hurry yesterday. My suspicion is that the olympic shoes I’ve recently bought push my knees forward to a degree which is unhealthy to them.

Fortunately, doing the warmup differently yesterday (and doing a few RDLs and back extensions before squats) means my knees feel much better today. I’ll try to take two videos, one with and one without the olympic shoes/ a lifted heel.

I did the same thing a few years back. Was tired of having pain (accidents and operations). Adopted a little wider stance and started more glutes exercises. Also religiously started better warm ups. Dog peeing on hydrant, side raises, front raises, lateral, raises, etc. Glutes and knees specific.

After 10 weeks, I had to deload. My knees were killing me. Form was fine, weight was not heavy, was doing 5 every time, etc. But my knees were on fire. After the deload, I had 5 weeks of less pain, but it came back. Stopped after the 10th week.

I now do a 5/3/1 type work out, with no knee pain.

What can you get out of this?

1: volume, for me, was too much for the knees. Less volume, no pain.
2: Warm ups, warm ups, warm ups. I wish I would have started 25 years ago with more warm ups.
3: I had ART done on both knees (I had a few accidents and operations). After my knees actually “released”, pain has been almost completely gone.

So… Here it is. It was actually my second set - 185x6 -, I filmed the first one but the angle was too bad… Blame the fact that this was the first time I took a camera to the gym. I lose my balance and rock forward on the second rep - believe me, that does not usually happen.

[video]2630[/video]

I did Defranco’s Agile 8 as a part of my warmup and followed it up with some overhead squats. My knees are feeling a lot better…

[quote]JFG wrote:
I did the same thing a few years back. Was tired of having pain (accidents and operations). Adopted a little wider stance and started more glutes exercises. Also religiously started better warm ups. Dog peeing on hydrant, side raises, front raises, lateral, raises, etc. Glutes and knees specific.

After 10 weeks, I had to deload. My knees were killing me. Form was fine, weight was not heavy, was doing 5 every time, etc. But my knees were on fire. After the deload, I had 5 weeks of less pain, but it came back. Stopped after the 10th week.

I now do a 5/3/1 type work out, with no knee pain.

What can you get out of this?

1: volume, for me, was too much for the knees. Less volume, no pain.
2: Warm ups, warm ups, warm ups. I wish I would have started 25 years ago with more warm ups.
3: I had ART done on both knees (I had a few accidents and operations). After my knees actually “released”, pain has been almost completely gone.[/quote]

The thing is that frequent squatting has always worked pretty well for me. If I just do it once a week (especially if I ramp up to just one really heavy set), the motor pattern seems to deteriorate.

I had similar knee pain from what you described. Mine came from my kneecap tracking slightly to the inside. My chiro did some ART on it for just a few minuted and it immediately felt better. My VM had out developed my VL and was no longer pulling straight but slightly inward. He says that can happen if you tend to lock out hard with squats, leg press etc…