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Knee pain can be a common issue that affects people of all ages and fitness levels. While it's essential to seek medical advice for chronic or severe knee pain, many individuals find that they can alleviate discomfort and strengthen their knees through proper squatting techniques. Squatting is a functional and fundamental movement that engages the muscles around the knee joint and can contribute to its stability. 

In this blog post, we'll explore how to improve knee pain with squatting by focusing on form, modifications, and additional exercises to build knee strength.

Mastering the Correct Squatting Form:

The key to using squats to alleviate knee pain lies in mastering proper form. Incorrect form can lead to further stress on the knee joint and exacerbate pain. Follow these steps to ensure you're performing squats correctly:

1. Foot Placement: 

Start with your feet shoulder width apart and feet straight ahead.  See how a bodyweight squat feels with this.  Gradually and slowly start widening your stance and turning your feet slightly out.  Don’t go excessively wide or turn out, but find a stance for you that feels good.

Knee Pain

Knee Pain narrow toes

Knee Pain toes out


2. Knees Foot Position: 

As you squat down, make sure your knees are aligned in the middle of your toes, approximately at the 2nd toe.. Avoid letting them collapse inward as well as go excessively outward in relation to the foot.

3. Squat Down not Back: 

Initiate the squat by dropping  your hips down.   This technique ensures that you are moving in a more fluid motion and allows your ankles, hips and trunk to handle the stress vs just your knees.

4. Depth: 

Only squat as low as your mobility allows without causing pain. It's okay to start with partial squats and gradually work your way to deeper squats as you become more comfortable.

Using Modifications to Reduce Knee Strain While Squatting:

For those experiencing significant knee pain or discomfort, modifying the squatting technique can be beneficial. These modifications can help decrease the load on the knee joint while still engaging the surrounding muscles:

1. Box Squats: 

Perform squats by sitting onto a box or bench. This limits the depth and helps control the movement, making it easier on the knees.

2. TRX Squats: 

Hold onto TRX straps or any stable support while squatting. This provides assistance during the movement and can be a good place to start.

3. Front Squats: 

Having the load distributed differently can help with knee pain with squatting.

Sometimes have a month or two of no squats or different variations of squats can help as well.  Check out one of our blog posts on How to Train Lower Body with Knee Pain.

Conclusion: Knee Pain and Squatting

Improving knee pain while squatting requires proper form, modifications, and supplementary exercises. Remember to always listen to your body and consult a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or severe knee pain.

By implementing the tips and techniques mentioned in this blog post, you can develop stronger knees, increase mobility, and enjoy the benefits of pain-free squatting in your daily life and fitness routines. 

Ready to get started squatting without knee pain? Contact the Massachusetts physical therapists at Move Strong PT.

Andrew Millett
Post by Andrew Millett
August 16, 2023



We’ve helped many people get out of pain and get back to their lives. Let us help you too! Contact our Hudson, MA physical therapy clinic.

This website does not provide medical advice. Consult with your physician or a licensed medical practitioner if you are dealing with an active injury or seeking medical advice.