T Nation

Knees Gone to Hell


I'm writing this in the hope that one of you will have had a similar experience, and/or might know of a way to work around this.

My situation: I have a home gym that's no more than a rack, some plates, and a pulley station in case I want to do some cable work. Mostly I do chin-ups, presses, squats, etc.

I decided to give Poliquin's "Advanced German Volume Training" a whirl a few weeks ago and I'm loving it. My knees, however, are giving me grief.

I've always had to be careful with them. If I back squat much over 200 lbs with a narrow stance, my knees scream at me for days. Wide-stance/sumo squats to parallel have always been pain free, however, and allowed me to work well beyond that limit. Front squats allow a narrower stance and deeper squat without the grinding and pain.

The last couple weeks, however, my knees burn when I'm squatting, and the right one makes a bloody uholy gritty, grinding sound... like there's sand in the joint. It's loud and nasty. While it's uncomfortable, it's not yet painful. Last night I couldn't even finish my workout; the burn in the knees got bad, and it went from discomfort to ache... and I was only up around 300 lbs for my reps.

Have any of you dealt with this? If I'm going into the doc, I'd like to go with some foreknowledge of possibilities so that I'm not flying blind.

I'm also wondering if neoprene sleeves would help this problem. Do any of you use them? If so, are there any brands that stand out above the others? And what the Hell is the difference between those with the open and closed patella?


They are an absolute life saver. I like the open patella because it seems to help it stay in place.

The brand I have is Bike but it is old and worn and I am looking for new ones.


the sleeves will help, but you may get some relief by adding more fats and oils to your diet


Do they really make that big of a difference? If so, I'll have to take a look at grabbing a set ASAP.

Hell, they even sell them over at the local pharmacy with both open and closed patella. It's why I asked about brand. They seem so ubiquitous that I figured there'd be vast quality differences. Or is this a case of one being very much like another?


Oh, man. Trust me, I get plenty of fats. I'm thinking about upping my dose of fish oils, but overall the fat content isn't something I'm neglecting. I'm following along the lines of Berardi's Precision Nutrition plan -- with a stumble in the road here and there. :slight_smile:


I have exactly the same issue, sounds like rice crispies when I bend my right knee under a heavy load. It started getting pretty loud about a year ago, but there was never any pain. But I thought I might as well get a diagnosis, because I'm over 50, and it might be the start of arthritis.

I went to a knee MD, and found out that the noise (it's called "crepitus") was due to my genetic structure and mechanics. I have an increased quadriceps angle between my femur and kneecap. This is also due to being female, but the angle is greater on my right side.

Usually, if there is no pain, then there is nothing to worry about. But only a thorough exam can determine this.

The doc also said that glucosamine and chondroitin won't hurt, but he wasn't absolutely convinced that they would help quiet the noise, either.

And since he was a sports medicine specialist, he said to keep on squatting (with good form, of course!) Because it will NOT hurt the knees.

Bad form = bad knees.


They help me tremendously. When I train without one my knee aches for days. When I use it my knee is fine.

Pick one you like and go for it. A bunch of people recommend Rehband but I have never tried that brand.


Well I feel for you as I am right there too. I have been blessed with crappy knee mechanics also.
Regular back squats are not something I cant do and have not been able to since my 20s.
So what I do is deadlifts, goodmornings and front squats.
Admittedly I cant do as much with front squats as you all do with back squats, but at least Im squattin!
Btw, I go as low as I possibly can, to the point that my lower back starts to round on the front squats.
For my deads, I need to use 3" blocks,due to knees but hey Im not competing anyway so I dont really care. At least this allows me to some good heave compound lifting.
All I can tell you is keep experminting to see what works for you and your knees.
Oh and yeah I do use knee sleeves. The ones I use and like are APT's. You can get them at www.ProWristsraps.com.


northcott: i too have the same problems as you.after reading many posts here,i bought a set of rehbands 7mm closed sleeves from jackals gym also started consuming 3to 4 tablespoons 15-20Gr. of highly concentrated fish oil [nutrasea].the sleeves seam to help a bit,they sure keep your knee's warm. i have been using them for a couple of month's now.i still get sharp pains in my knee's.i just work through it.i am planninig on doing a lot more stretching glutes/hips/hammies via M2 video.maybe it is our ccccold canadian winters!!!


check your hip mobility. Roll the piss out of your IT band, glutes, hip flexors.


my knees were always giving me problems & sounded like rice crispies. i upped my fish oils and also cut back on my sugar/carb intake and sure enough, my knees feel 75% better. it was almost as if i had "gout" in my knees but due to the excess carbs in my diet. don't know how to explain it exactly. just know it worked for me.


Thanks for all the tips, folks! A lot of what I've read here has given me food for thought, and got me to think about things I was taking for granted. Sometimes you're a bit too close to the subject and need an outside pair of eyes to point out what should be obvious. :slight_smile:

I think I'll incorporate a few approaches here: I'm going to pick up some knee sleeves. It's my plan to continue lifting for as long as I can, so anything that aids in longevity of the knees is golden.

I already take care of fat and carb ratios, but I've been thinking about experimenting with Poliquin's suggestion for mega-dosing of fish oil, so I'll be giving that a test in the near future.

Lastly: Hip mobility. I've been noticing, and complaining, about how my hips have been tightening up after sprinting, how I've been fighting to avoid excessive lordosis because of it, etc. You'd think that I'd have put one and one together... but apparently not. Yeah, I had a "D'oh!" moment. Time to step up the effort on that front.


I feel for ya. I have had both knees replaced. I am 61, 300+. I do lumberjack sguats, front squats. lots of deadlifts and dumbbell deads. I know everyone is against the leg press machines but thet help us old guys. I suggest you get a good orthopedic (sports) dr to look at your knees before they get too bad.


I probably have that in my future so I have to ask how you are doing?

I just had my 3rd scope 2 wks ago and plan on doing the therapy for the full 6wks. Into the 3rd wk and getting antsy.

Thanks, hope all is well.


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I wrap my knees on all squats over 225. I used the sleeves for a while, but started wrapping them like a powerlifter,it is way more comfortable. You might give it a shot...good luck.


My knees too. The left one aches for a day or 2 after squats so i've cut them back to bodyweight for a little while.

The best way to hit my quads right now is to drag my tire sled backwards. Works for my clients who have much worse knees than I do.

I'll give the sleeves a go. You guys seem to talk highly of them.



Awesome. I can always depend on the T-Nation for solid advice and new insights. :slight_smile:

Bushy, you're a scholar and a gentleman -- and part mad scientist. A new sports medicine clinic has opened up within walking distance of my house. Once I've finished with the bureaucratic run-around and get in to see someone, I'll bring up alflutops.

My knees have been problematic since I hit a wild growth spurt just before I turned 14. In the two month summer break between grades 8 and 9, I shot up from just under 5'8" to just a little over 6' in height... over four inches in two months.

There were days that I was immobile because my knees hurt like Hell. Throw in a couple sports injuries over the years, and I'm kind of surprised they've held up so well. :wink:

I should definitely check the stabilizing muscles around the knees. I've only started doing front squats the last couple years. Close and medium stance back squats have aggravated my knees for years, and so for the last decade I've done nothing but sumo stance. The tops of my thighs are disproportionately thick compared to the area surrounding the knee. Another "d'oh!" moment.


I had a similar situation after I restarted playing competitive volleyball and doing some long distance biking and hiking. I believe the sudden increase in volume of jumps and other stresses on the knees caused the pain/discomfort that developed (I would groan throughout my squats).

I did increase my fish oil consumption, wore some neoprene sleeves when playing volleyball and took a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement, but I think some other things really helped me "lose" the pain:

1) Reduced the volume of activity, then started easing up the volume. I'm 45 years old and can't increase activity levels as quickly as when I was younger.

2) Taking an ibuprofen (Advil) EVERY time before any activity that puts stress on my knees. It helps prevent the inflammation.

3) Putting ice wraps on my knees IMMEDIATELY AFTER EVERY knee-intense activity. I bought some ice wraps made for knees (with velcro straps) that I keep in the freezer - I toss them into a cooler when leaving the house.

Best of luck to you. Sore knees are a bitch.


I hear a lot of similarity here with what I am hearing from my 45-year-old knees, but thankfully no pain yet. I also played volleyball for years, but am more limited right now on my squats by poor form and a touchy back than by my knees.

The therapist I saw earlier this year for shoulder problems was skeptical about the benefit of Glucosamine/Chondroitin based on some studies he read recently, so I am experimenting with taking a break from it to see if it makes a difference.

Like I said, I can't attribute any new pain to stopping, but it seems the rice krispie effect has increased. Maybe I will start up again and pay better attention to the sound effects.

I've been poor about incorporating squats into my routines in the past, but have noticed how workouts that start with squats or deads really do feel more productive, and I attribute recent gains to that and the wealth of knowledge and motivation I gain from this site. I take fish oil daily, but am curious what volume might be necessary to make an impact.