"Squats hurt my knees!"
Hmm, probably not. Most of the time, your knees start to hurt because you squat like a dummy. But what happens if you have impeccable technique, yet things still hurt? Most often, a squat can hurt your knees in two ways:
- Lateral knee pain, either on the inside or outside of your knee. This is commonly affected by hip stability and your glute strength, which keeps your knee from caving in.
- Pain in the front of the knee. If you have this kind of pain, you'll get a little relief with hip mobility and glute activation drills, but it'll come back with a vengeance later. If your glutes can't fix the problem, what will?
It's not a matter of more mobility. Instead, you have to get stronger in the right places. And the right place is the hamstrings.
Hit the Hams First
Even if you have strong hamstrings from deadlifting, this might not make your knees feel better. Since the hamstring crosses two joints, the hip and knee, you can train the hip extension portion of your hamstrings (through deadlifts) without strengthening the knee flexors.
This means your quads (knee extensors) will get much stronger than your hamstrings (knee flexors). This muscle imbalance can lead to pain around your knee cap. How do we fix this? With this exercise:
Seated Hamstring Curls with Band
Seated hamstring curls eliminate the use of the hip extensors in the hamstrings and isolate the knee flexion.
Perform 3-4 sets of 20-25 reps immediately before squatting. Pull your heel to your butt and squeeze the hamstring.
You'll develop strong knee flexors that can balance out your strong quads, eliminating the knee pain you feel during squats.