Squats are a great excise to do in the gym or even at home, as they work the overall leg muscles as a whole! They are also a very functional movement, as we tend to squat when sitting down on chairs, to pick things up off the floor, as well as getting in and out of our cars.
However, it is not uncommon for someone to have knee pain while squatting. This could happen initially when they perform the squat exercise, they may develop it over time or they may also notice it with the aforementioned tasks such as sitting in chairs or getting in and out of cars.
The reasons someone can have knee pain while squatting can vary in nature from acute injuries to biomechanical causes. Acute injuries occur where there is a sudden unexpected twist, abnormal movement or pressure on the knee. These types of injuries are often more serious and can result in muscle, tendon, ligament or joint damage. They are normally accompanied with swelling and inflammation in the knee.
Less severe causes of knee pain can occur when we put excessive pressure or load on the knee, its surrounding muscles and ligaments unduly over time. Think of someone who squats 3-4 times per week and gradually increases the load each day. This load increase every session wouldn't allow the knee muscles to recover and overload them to a certain degree.
The last cause of knee pain is due to poor biomechanics or in other terms how the muscles are working around the knee, their timing and order of activation. Biomechanics can also refer to how the knee angle is tracking when it bends to go into the squat position and how it straightens to get out of the squat position.
Often the nature of how your knee pain came to be and the duration you have had it for can give a physio a good idea of whether you knee pain is due to an acute incident, overload while training or repetition or due to poor biomechanics. It is always advisable to see a qualified health professional to assess your knee pain, as the type of diagnosis will often dictate the treatment warranted to get you better and most importantly get you back to squatting pain-free!