Protecting Your Knees During CrossFit and Bodybuilding Activities

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With the increased popularity of intense fitness programs and televised ninja-style competitions, people are interested in pushing their limits through extreme exercise.

knee pain when squatting

The thrill of this type of workout is best balanced with the practice of skills that protect the body from injury, as the ultimate goal is to attain lifelong optimal health and wellness. Commitment to a few basic fundamentals can ensure that the excitement of high intensity sports is not sidelined by serious damage to at-risk joints such as the knees, which are highly subject to knee pain when squatting and knee pain after squats.

Stressing the Knees with Modern Workouts

CrossFit and other high intensity workouts offer aggressive “WOD” (Workout of the day) options to keep members engaged and challenged. Once you have mastered the appropriate form and skills and are ready to engage in advanced workouts, alternate them with lower impact cardio options such as elliptical, treadmill, swimming, or spin classes. These intense movements can push your body and your knees to their limits, making it essential that any sort of pain, like knee pain when squatting, is used as an indicator of when to slow down and relax the joint.

Bodybuilding has been around as a fitness option for many decades. Although many people do not desire competition level results, it continues to be a very popular fitness activity as people enjoy pursuing an optimal physique. Appropriate warm-up is essential to prepare the joints for bodybuilding activities. When doing prime weight lifting activities such as squats, it is important to use proper form to prevent knee pain when squatting or pain in other joints such as the shoulders, ankles, and wrists. Learning the basic techniques before accelerating the weight load is important to prevent joint damage such as knee pain after squats. Squats, leg press, shoulder press, dead lifts, and lunges with weights all require use of stabilization and control to manage the movement of the weights while keeping the joints in proper alignment.

The Benefits of an Experienced Trainer

It is well worth the expense to invest in the use of a qualified fitness trainer, especially if you are out of shape or attempting a new, more strenuous workout program. An experienced trainer will assess your current fitness level, review areas of weakness or prior injury, and develop a plan designed to help you reach your fitness goals. When beginning a new exercise regime, speed is not an important factor, at least until the body and joints are warmed up, stretched appropriately, and proper form is developed. 

The knees are shock absorbers for the body. Knee injuries are therefore very common and can result in extensive rehabilitation or even surgical repair. The popular slogan “No Pain – No Gain” can be misleading. Exercise may be strenuous and difficult, but it should not produce acute sharp or burning pain. Knees are at risk of several types of preventable injuries including fractures, dislocations, ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury, and meniscal or tendon tears. Injury to the knees can also result in long-term complications such as arthritis.

Some things to consider that help reduce the risk of knee damage include:

  • Work to achieve a more ideal body weight for your height, gender, age and build
  • Reduce stress through yoga or meditation as a balance to the more aggressive energy used in high intensity CrossFit style workouts
  • Wear appropriate footwear when working out and replace shoes when they are worn
  • Wear protective gear or padding that is suitable for the exercise activity
  • Be aware of high repetition activities and stop when acute or new pain occurs
  • Don’t push beyond your skill set before mastering the current level
  • Use an icepack on your knees after a work out to help reduce the inflammation

Squats can be a very effective means of gaining strength in the quads, glutes and knees. When performing squats, it is important that the knees tract over the feet, that the heels remain on the floor and that the knees do not extend beyond the feet. Avoid adding weights as part of your squats until you have mastered the optimal form for squats. Also consider wearing a knee sleeve when doing squats or other exercises that impact the knees. If you experience knee pain when squatting or knee pain after squats, seek the advice of your trainer or a doctor who specializes in Orthopedics.

Ultimately, it is possible to improve your overall physical fitness along with your quality of life at any age. Taking it slow, hiring experienced trainers, and focusing on form over speed will ensure that your fitness goals are not derailed by injury or joint pain. Preventing knee pain when squatting during CrossFit and body building activities can ultimately prevent knee pain after squats and the other serious issues that can arise later on. As always, consult with your doctor before engaging in any new physical fitness regime.