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    Squats - Sore Knees

    Long time lurker here needing some help.

    I am 55 (soon to be 56) and after a long period of not lifting, eating bad, etc. I decided to get back to the weights at the beginning of the year. After trying several different programs I landed on SL 5x5 and I'm currently at week 14 and have been pleased with the results so far (still progressing). At week 11 I switched squats to a 3x5 schedule since I'm doing them 3 days per week and this seems to be working better for recovery, etc. as I get to heavier weights (at least for me).

    My question is regarding soreness in my knees. Since I started light on squats (bar + 50) my knees felt great initially but as I continue to progress I am noticing more soreness. I have focused on my form and believe I am hitting everything correctly. I do not have pain when I am working out. It is typically during the day or night when sitting or standing up so my questions are 1) Should I expect some soreness as being normal?, 2) Any tips to help reduce soreness?

    I appreciate any help in advance. I know this is kind of a loaded question without more information so let me know if you have any questions for me.
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    Registered User shaneinga's Avatar
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    Knee soreness really can be from a lot of issues. If you are certain that your squat form is not to blame than read on.

    One issue can be caused by your mind. Seriously. Your mind might not trust your legs to carry the load you asking them to squat and in turn it shifts the load to the knees. You can try to do some box squats to see if this helps your knee soreness.

    I would venture to bet you probably have some misfiring or weak glutes as well. Very common for most of us as we spend a lot of the day in the seated position and the biggest weakling in the bunch is the glute medius. Try to do some glute activation warm ups prior to squatting. You can get PT bands off of Amazon for cheap and you can find tons of videos on Youtube for these. I would do static hold and actual strength movements as well. Static holds are just as important to actually get the glutes to fully fire.

    It might be worth seeing a trainer or PT if the pain continues.

    Good luck.
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    Originally Posted by shaneinga View Post
    Knee soreness really can be from a lot of issues. If you are certain that your squat form is not to blame than read on.

    One issue can be caused by your mind. Seriously. Your mind might not trust your legs to carry the load you asking them to squat and in turn it shifts the load to the knees. You can try to do some box squats to see if this helps your knee soreness.

    I would venture to bet you probably have some misfiring or weak glutes as well. Very common for most of us as we spend a lot of the day in the seated position and the biggest weakling in the bunch is the glute medius. Try to do some glute activation warm ups prior to squatting. You can get PT bands off of Amazon for cheap and you can find tons of videos on Youtube for these. I would do static hold and actual strength movements as well. Static holds are just as important to actually get the glutes to fully fire.

    It might be worth seeing a trainer or PT if the pain continues.

    Good luck.
    Thanks for the response, Shane.

    I'll check out the the PT bands, videos, and glute activation warm ups.
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    I think it's important you find the stance that works for you. And not be too dogmatic doing it some way that "everyone has to", to be correct. Some people squat narrower and some feet much wider. Personally I squat narrower for benefit of my right knee, but you might need the opposite.

    Don't be scared to back off 2 weeks progress and run up again. Ligament, tendon, cartlidge grows slower than muscle. So maybe when you get back again to where you are now it won't ache? Another tactic is to stop increases for 2 weeks to let the gains consolidate before moving on again as normal. Yes that's not following the program, but you lifted before and not total novice so we're trusting your judgement.
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    Originally Posted by robhalv1 View Post
    Long time lurker here needing some help.

    I am 55 (soon to be 56) and after a long period of not lifting, eating bad, etc. I decided to get back to the weights at the beginning of the year. After trying several different programs I landed on SL 5x5 and I'm currently at week 14 and have been pleased with the results so far (still progressing). At week 11 I switched squats to a 3x5 schedule since I'm doing them 3 days per week and this seems to be working better for recovery, etc. as I get to heavier weights (at least for me).

    My question is regarding soreness in my knees. Since I started light on squats (bar + 50) my knees felt great initially but as I continue to progress I am noticing more soreness. I have focused on my form and believe I am hitting everything correctly. I do not have pain when I am working out. It is typically during the day or night when sitting or standing up so my questions are 1) Should I expect some soreness as being normal?, 2) Any tips to help reduce soreness?

    I appreciate any help in advance. I know this is kind of a loaded question without more information so let me know if you have any questions for me.
    I might not be so qualified to answer your question so take my advice with a grain of salt.
    I have similar issue (i think some people just have weaker knees than others)
    anyway i will tell you some things that helped me.
    when you get up from the squat position try to initiate the movement from the hips..(see mark rippetoe squat videos for better understanding)
    I also wear knee sleeves and i believe they really help
    also try warming up and try wider/narrower stances to see what makes your knees more comfortable
    hope that helps .. good luck
    Last edited by phoenix0096; 07-15-2020 at 01:51 AM.
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    I think it's important you find the stance that works for you. And not be too dogmatic doing it some way that "everyone has to", to be correct. Some people squat narrower and some feet much wider. Personally I squat narrower for benefit of my right knee, but you might need the opposite.

    Don't be scared to back off 2 weeks progress and run up again. Ligament, tendon, cartlidge grows slower than muscle. So maybe when you get back again to where you are now it won't ache? Another tactic is to stop increases for 2 weeks to let the gains consolidate before moving on again as normal. Yes that's not following the program, but you lifted before and not total novice so we're trusting your judgement.
    I've actually tried both narrow and wide and ended up somewhere in the middle. I'll admit it takes me a few warm up sets to get comfortable with my stance. I have actually tried a deload/reset twice now (reduce weight 10% and run up again) just to get comfortable with the weights and this has worked well for me but has not seemed to entirely eliminate the soreness.
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    Could be a lot of things. Going “heavy” 3X per week on an exercise could lead to some issues after awhile. Mixing perhaps run your program reps two times per week and do lighter weight front squats mid week. Without a vid it’s hard to determine form, but that matters a lot as already mentioned. With different leverages of individual biomechanics you need to find a form that works for you. Not only stance width but the angle of your toes matter too (pointing out s more straight). Try to get vids and look at your form. Many people don’t hit proper depth on squats, especially when getting into heavier low rep sets. If you don’t hit depth you add a lot of shear force to your knees. Look at other things new things you do as well, biking for example can cause knee pain if your seat height is too low to get your leg extended on the downstroke. Could also be quad ha,string imbalance, or tightness in your glutes hams etc.
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    Get some good 7mm knee sleeves. They help a ton. Stoic and SBD would be my recommendations.
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    A simple solution is to squat deep.

    I’m a big believer in deep squatting. Just as you wouldn’t perform a biceps curl halfway up, it makes little sense to perform a squat through only a partial range of motion. Further, partial squats will develop what I call structural imbalances, increasing the risk of chronic knee pain, especially patella tendonitis.
    Last edited by adamgentile; 07-17-2020 at 01:18 PM.
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    You might also try starting off with box squats for the first few weeks.

    Having the box as a "safety net" under your backside would help to negate any subconscious forward leaning and help you to insure that you are utilizing the glutes and quads in the lift. If the soreness is gone from performing the box squat, then once you have established that mind/muscle connection to the correct muscles then you can try the exercise without the box and see if the problem stays gone or comes back.
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    Are you breaking Parallel? Over the years, I have heard many people complain of knee pain, some of them that I watched were hovering around parallel, I suggested they go lighter and deeper and it worked for some. Some people just have knee issues, it could be many things. Good luck, don't be in a hurry to put plates on.
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    My knees used to hurt until I started squatting ATG vs putting the brakes on at parallel.
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    I can not use knee sleeves since my three knee surgeries years ago 2012, and what helped the most was having the bar at a low bar position on my back, now with arthritis, this still works
    Originally Posted by mtpockets View Post
    Are you breaking Parallel? Over the years, I have heard many people complain of knee pain, some of them that I watched were hovering around parallel, I suggested they go lighter and deeper and it worked for some. Some people just have knee issues, it could be many things. Good luck, don't be in a hurry to put plates on.
    this also helped a lot
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    Could be numerous things which others have pointed out.

    Check your hip flexor mobility
    Also do you suffer from flat feet?
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    I am not a PT, but I used to have bad knee problems and it took forever to warm up for squats.

    After years of experimenting, I added Goblet Squats to finish my legs with and after several months, I was virtually pain free and my quads got noticeably bigger That experience told me that I may have not had adequate muscle development surrounding my knees and Goblet Squats fixed it.

    Of course, what works for me may not work for you. Worth a try.
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    I can never skip the cardio beforehand... at least 5 to 10 minutes. Then a few minutes of stretches... then squats with no weight on the bar... then I start... and even then might have some pain...
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    Just wanted to give a quick update on this and thanks for all of the feedback.

    Since my initial post and following the initial responses I shot a video of my squat form and realized a few things. First, I was not going as deep as I thought I was. I was hovering and holding at parallel for several seconds vs going deep and bouncing back up. Second, I realized that when I was dropping down I was pointing my knees directly in front of me versus pushing them out which I believe was putting all of the pressure of the movement on my knees.

    So based on the above I have adjusted my form. Now when I am dropping down I am focusing on pushing my legs/knees out, going much lower than parallel (ATG), and getting a nice bounce back up. I feel much better but it will take a few months to see if this helps eliminate the knee soreness.
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