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    Busting the Myth: Are Squats Bad for Your Knees?

    Are Squats Bad for Your Knees?

    Explore the truth about squats and knee health. Learn proper techniques, benefits, and how to protect your knees while squatting.

    October 24, 2023   |    3 Mins Read


    Exercise myths are aplenty, and among the most persistent is the belief that squats wreak havoc on your knees. Is there any truth behind this? Science says no.

    The Science Behind Squats

    Contrary to popular belief, the unanimous voice of research proclaims that squats are, in fact, beneficial for your knees. When investigating the intricacies of the squat motion, a primary focus often lands on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Some believe that squats stretch and stress the ACL, but scientific findings highlight the opposite. As you descend into a squat, the stress on the ACL diminishes. This is especially prominent when the knee flexes, or bends, beyond 90 degrees – the exact motion of a squat.

    That's not to brush aside the reality that squats do place certain forces on the knee. Elements like the meniscus, cartilage, and patella tendon experience increased shear stress during a squat. However, this stress tends to plateau once your knee achieves that pivotal 90-degree flexion—similar to the motion when climbing stairs. This proves that the mere act of squatting isn't what’s harmful to the knee.

    What About Deep Squats?

    Common wisdom once discouraged deep squats (those that go beyond 90 degrees). However, recent studies have shown that these deeper squats evenly distribute tension, balancing the weight across the knee and its tissues. This not only strengthens the knee but may also help in preventing potential injuries.

    Exploring Loaded Squats: A Deeper Dive

    The plot thickens when we introduce weights into the equation. Squatting beyond body weight, especially in a gym setting, means gradually increasing the load. As you amplify this load, the forces acting on the knee joint also intensify.

    Are Squats Beneficial for Knee Health?

    The structures within our knee – from cartilage and ligaments to tendons and the meniscus – are designed to adapt, much like the muscles in our legs. They can endure, and even thrive, under progressive loads, becoming more resilient and injury-resistant. The trick lies in:

    1.  Maintaining impeccable squatting technique.
    2.  Ensuring a gradual and safe increase in loads.

    Mastering the Art of Squatting

    For optimal knee health, mastering squat technique is paramount. Here's a simplified guide to ace the squat:

    1.  Start with your feet apart a little wider than shoulders and toes slightly outward. Make sure that your entire foot is touching the ground, especially the big toes.
    2.  Lower your hips and descend. Make sure you maintain a straight spine.
    3.  Pause for a moment at the lowest part of your squat.
    4.  When rising, exert force from your feet, returning to the starting position.

    Think of it like you’re attempting to sit on an imaginary chair.

    Progressive Squat Journey

    To get better at squats and strengthen your knees, here’s a step-by-step squat progression you can try:

    1. Plate squat (Weeks 1-4)
    2. Goblet squat (Weeks 5-8)
    3. Dual KB front squat (Weeks 9-12)
    4. Front Squat (Weeks 13-16)
    5. Back Squat (Weeks 17-20)

    The aim is to perfect each variation within its designated four-week window while slightly increasing weights for consistent strength augmentation.

    Can I Do Squats Even with an Injury?

    For individuals recovering from knee injuries or degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, a modified squat regime can still bring benefits. Static, low-angle squats have been proven effective in pain reduction, enhanced range of motion, and improved muscle strength over extended periods.

    Modifications for Newbies and Those with Injuries

    If you're new to squats or you have injuries that make squats harder, here are some modifications you can try to make it easier for you:

    1. Wall Squats:

    • Stand with your back against a wall.
    • Slowly slide down the wall, keeping your feet hip-width apart.
    • Only go as low as you feel comfortable.
    • Use the wall for support to rise back up.

    2. Chair Squats:

    • Stand with your back against a wall.
    • Slowly slide down the wall, keeping your feet hip-width apart.
    • Only go as low as you feel comfortable.
    • Use the wall for support to rise back up.

    3. Squats with Support:

    • Stand with your back against a wall.
    • Slowly slide down the wall, keeping your feet hip-width apart.
    • Only go as low as you feel comfortable.
    • Use the wall for support to rise back up.

    4. Squats with a Stability Ball:

    • Place a stability ball between your back and a wall.
    • Lower into a squat, allowing the ball to roll up your back.
    • This offers support and can help with balance.

    5. Pillow Squats:

    • Place a stability ball between your back and a wall.
    • Lower into a squat, allowing the ball to roll up your back.
    • This offers support and can help with balance.

    Remember, it's essential to listen to your body. If a movement causes pain (not to be confused with discomfort), it's crucial to stop and consult with a fitness professional or physical therapist.

    Pain During Squats: What Should You Do?

    If squats lead to discomfort, form-check is the first step. Inconsistent form can cause back or knee pain. Should pain persist even with correct form, or if you have a history of injuries, consult a fitness professional or physical therapist. As a first-aid treatment, you may perform the RICE treatment: rest the knee, apply ice, apply compression, and elevate the area. 

    Can Knee Sleeves Help Me with My Squats?

    Knee sleeves can be beneficial when doing squats. They provide compression, which can increase blood flow and reduce pain and swelling during and after workouts. By offering support to the knee joint and surrounding tissues, knee sleeves can enhance stability during squats, reducing the risk of injury. They also offer a warming effect, helping to keep the knee joint lubricated and potentially improving squat performance. For those with prior knee issues or concerns about injury, knee sleeves can offer an added layer of protection and confidence during squats.

    What Is the Best Knee Sleeve for Squats?

    The Koprez Knee Compression Sleeve is the number 1 choice for those looking to add squats to their routine, particularly those with injuries or concerns about their knees. Here’s what makes it so great:

    1. Targeted Compression: Koprez Knee Compression Sleeve uses a unique compression technology that ensures that each part of the knee joint gets the right amount of pressure, providing superior support.
    2. Injury Prevention: The sleeve was designed to safequard the vulnerable areas of the knee. For those with previous injuries, this extra layer of protection can instill confidence to reintroduce squats into their workout regimen.
    3. Therapeutic Warmth: One standout feature of the Koprez Sleeve is its ability to retain just the right amount of warmth, which helps in increasing blood flow, hastening recovery, and easing any discomfort or pain.
    4. Breathable Material: Concerned about sweating? The Koprez Sleeve is crafted with a moisture-wicking material that keeps the knee dry, preventing potential skin irritations or discomfort.
    5. Affordable Care: While the technology and design are top-notch, Koprez believes in making their products accessible. Therefore, the sleeve offers premium quality without burning a hole in your pocket.

    The Koprez Knee Compression Sleeve is a game-changer for everyone, from beginners to fitness enthusiasts. Its thoughtful design and state-of-the-art features ensure that concerns about knee health won't hold anyone back from reaping the benefits of squats.

    Final Thoughts

    Squats are really good for your knees when you do them the right way. If you're just starting out or getting back into exercise after an injury, it's always a smart idea to get some advice on how to squat properly. This way, you make sure you're doing it safely and getting the most benefit for your knees. Remember, it's not about how many squats you can do, but about doing them right!


    • Polizzi, M. (2023, August 6). Are Squats Bad for Your Knees? Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/are-squats-bad-for-knees-5094721

    • Luna, D. (2022, November 10). Are Squats Bad for Your Knees? What Science Says. Inspire USA Foundation. https://www.inspireusafoundation.org/are-squats-bad-for-your-knees/

    • Sissons, B. (2019, May 22). Knee pain from squatting: What to do. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325246


    Claire Evans worked as the content marketing manager at Koprez. Claire combined a background of writing and editing, marketing, and patient education to best serve consumers, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and anyone who relies on the Koprez brand for helpful information.

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