How do you treat pain in one knee when squatting but not when running or jumping?

Let’s assume there’s been no traumatic injury to the knee that hurts when you lower down into a deep squat—and I’m talking about a bodyweight-only squat–with both feet FLAT on the floor.

You’re able to sink to parallel without any problem, but once you start getting deeper or “ATG” style, you begin feeling this uncomfortable pain in the one knee. It’s not a stabbing or piercing feeling, but a strong ache.

  • The irony is that you can run without any problem: hard runs, uphill dashes, downhill jogging.
  • You can bound up a flight of stairs.
  • You can do box jumping, even kickboxing.
  • And no pain in that knee.

It’s just when you do into a deep squat…the pain arises.

In my case, I kind of aggravated my left knee by spending too much time (over a minute) in a very deep, bodyweight squat, just setting there in that position.

I then noticed that at faster runs, the knee had the same uncomfortable ache. But with mild rehab, I just about overcame the problem after a few weeks.

Then I broke my collarbone in a freak fall from a height. As a result, I eliminated, for six weeks, a deep squat exercise that involved holding weight plates before me.

The holding of these plates was impossible without shoulder pain. I also had to give up kettlebell squats (holding the kettlebells interfered with healing the shoulder). I just gave up on deep squats.

After six weeks, when the doctor said “go live your life and use your shoulder,” I found that the left knee hurt when I did a deep squat. It did not hurt when I ran or jumped.

I figured that if I just resumed the deep squat exercises (going up and down, up and down, with weights), the pain would disappear, but it didn’t, and it was really unnerving me.

Then, the treatment solution hit: STAY IN THE DEEP SQUAT FOR 20 SECONDS.

Yes, just stay there like that. Not for a minute. Not for 45 seconds. But for 20 seconds—like how a very young child sets this way.

And voila! The pain was all but gone!

I stood for about 45 seconds, then sunk down again into the deep squat; no knee pain! I did three positions:

1) Feet pointing straight out, less than shoulder width apart, 2) Feet pointing out like a duck’s, less than shoulder width, and 3) wide stance, feet slightly pointed out. For 20 seconds.

A rounded back is okay, by the way; don’t strain to have an upright back; after all, you’re not supporting a barbell across your back.

The pain in my knee was gone!

If you suffer from knee pain when squatting deeply with only bodyweight but not from running or jumping, my solution just may work.

But you should run it by a sports medicine doctor first to get some feedback.

If you’ve tried everything (leg extensions, stretching the hamstrings, etc.), and nothing works for your otherwise healthy knee (no history of torn cartilage or ligaments), then give my treatment a try — as long as your doctor sees nothing wrong with it.

If the pain persists, this treatment obviously isn’t right for you.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.