T Nation

Minor to Moderate Knee Pain? Read This

I feel in debt to the posters of T Nation, for the great information and contributions you provide me. I believe it’s absolutely necessary that when I feel I’ve found a successful method in any application, I need to share.


  1. I’m not a Dr, just a highly researched iron junkie.
  2. This worked for me, may not work for you.
  3. Obviously this is not for those with major structural issues.

Background: I’ve been lifting for about 10 years pretty consistently, but with many general (positive) life interruptions (marriage, 2 children, job, etc) and minor injuries. I’ve amassed some decent lifts, 455lb squat, 550lb deadlift, 300lb bench at around 200lbs. Not bad for a weekend warrior.

I’ve battled right knee pain for 8 months. It was a slow onset. Any knee bending work heavily irritated it. A click became audible in the same range of motion every time I bent my knee to around the half squat position. Dull aching pain in the right knee occurred during and most noticeably after my workouts.

I started with taking about 2 weeks off lower work. It got 75% better, but came back with a vengeance once I resumed lower work. I went to see a ortho, with an X-ray. He stated overuse, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome…the mystery diagnosis. Take some time off (already did this) and pop some anti inflams. I knew this was not the answer.

I thought I had a meniscus issue.

I then tried to work through the pain for about 6 weeks, really working on posterior chain exercises to strengthen my glutes and hams. No help.

I then went to get second opinion at ortho. Same diagnosis. Take it easy, and STOP SQUATTING. Yeah right, that’s not happening.

Just to clear my mind, I requested an MRI. Came back squeaky clean, minus an enlarged fat pad from years of squatting and deadlifting.

I continued to work through the pain for a few more months, trying all kinds of corrective exercises, modalities, etc.

With all this said, I’ve finally figured this thing out, and really believe many can find relief by applying the same methodology:

  1. I knew my knee was hurting because of an imbalance or weakness, not because of a major structural issue. I think it’s important to rule this out when something becomes chronic.
  2. I squatted low bar, with very little deviation from this method. I believed in specificity.
  3. I bought into the ‘hip break first’ method.
  4. I began to realize that with my knee hurting so badly, that I moved even closer to ‘turning my quads off.’ Hell, they were already off because I was hip hinging my squats with low bar.
  5. After this dawned on me, I figured I would move from low bar to high bar, and start front squatting as well.

Other things that have may have helped recovery:

  1. Fish oil of about 12K mg/day.
  2. Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM
  3. Twice daily work with ‘The Stick’ self myofacial release tool.

In summary: Be careful in falling into specific training, variation will likely keep you healthier. My quads were turned off and weakened, which was causing a major breakdown in my kinetic chain. I had to work through pain for about 3 weeks while my quads caught back up with high bar and fronts, so don’t quit if it’s not better overnight.

I probably will not go back to low bar, as it never was a comfortable motion for me. High bar is smooth as silk.

Hope this helps someone. It’s not anything revolutionary, but it is to remember that sometimes it’s the opposite from what you originally think. It was for me.