Squats have a very mixed reputation when looking at your joints, and your knees in particular. Typically, they use a heavy weight and a big lift because of what it is that you’re doing. This can take its toll on your joints in later life, or so some say, do squats cause knee pain?

If squats are hurting your knees, this is the first problem both in the long and short term. They shouldn't be, and something is wrong. You might well be lifting a weight that is too heavy for you. Worse still, it might be your technique. Either way, you have a serious problem.

Squatting Technique

Man squatting huge weight

To prevent squats from hurting your knees at the time of exercise, perfecting your technique is the first priority. To get a better technique, start by reducing the weight so that you know where the problem really lies and to make sure you're safe.

Your technique is almost definitely the reason that squatting can be bad for your knees. It shouldn't be bad for your knees, but how you do it makes it worse. You should be distributing a lot of the pressure that you're likely putting on your knees by using your hips during the squat as well. This is what most people are not doing, and what's causing the pain.

The weight

So, why is your technique not good? Well, there are a few reasons that can happen. One of the most common that you see is that you're using too much weight. If you're lifting heavier than you can lift well, not only is it pointless as you lose form but you risk injury too. As you recruit unnatural movements and different muscles, maybe without knowing to help your lift, you cause problems. That's just not how you're supposed to squat, and it will probably be pretty painful.

Injury Risk

Woman squatting in a power rack

Another huge issue that comes with you losing your form during a squat that results in you seriously hurting your knees is an injury. This bad technique, for whatever reason, can actually be all the difference between a good lift and a serious injury. There are a lot of different things you can do, from a pulled muscle all the way through to ligament and joint damage. You NEED to be careful with any big lift. (Consider even using a power rack or smith machine when needed)

Too often can result in injury

Another extremely easy way that you can injure yourself from squatting, even if your technique is spot on, is by overdoing it. If your squats are hurting your knees and you're doing them daily, you've probably got your answer. Performing any exercise too much is a bad thing, and these are no different. The more you do it, the more stress you put on your body with less time to heal, and it results in things like tendonitis. Let yourself recover; you should only really be doing them around two times a week maximum.

Get it right

To summarise, squats aren't bad for your knees. Your technique, however, could well be and result in squats causing your knee pain. To protect yourself in the long and the short term, just do what feels right. Don't try and lift the heaviest weight you can before you're ready. Practise your technique and let yourself rest between exercises; otherwise, it's an accident waiting to happen. For more guidance, speak to a medical professional or a PT and let them tell you how to deal with it.


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.