Skip These Three Exercises If You Have Knee Pain

You know that I am going to start by saying this…If you have knee pain, then go see your sport med doc or sport physiotherapist to get it checked out. There are a million reasons why your knee could be sore and without knowing you are decreasing your chances of doing the things that will make it better.

Note: a while ago a sport chiropractor asked me to mention them as a health care provider for athletes and I am happy to do so. If you have used or are using a sport chiropractor, I would just like to see them giving you some exercises you can do to augment their treatment. If they only do hands on treatment and you need to keep going back to ‘get fixed’ then I would search for another treatment provider. The same thing you should do if your physio just hooks you up to stim and gives you ultrasound.

In The Meantime…

While you and your health care provider are getting things sorted out, I think it is a good idea if you avoid these three exercises. If you have chronic knee pain due to arthritis or joint degeneration, then you might want to avoid them as well.

1) Barbell Squats

Don’t get me wrong, I love squats (well, I love front squats), but we use these to build max strength typically and that requires a lot of load which will put compression and shear through that knee joint, which is probably will not appreciate.

So I would prefer to see either a single leg squat to a depth that is comfortable for you (sometimes going too deep will increase your pain) or the split squat – again just to a comfortable depth and with perfect alignment. This of this as more of a motor pattern training exercise than a heavy resistance exercise.  You will start with just your bodyweight until you get the movement perfect – that will probably help your knee right there.

If you cannot see the video above, click here

If you cannot see the video above, click here

I know that our goal is to work through a full range of motion, but if that is going to increase your pain, then it is not worthwhile.  Start with 2 sets of 6 reps.

2) Squat Jumps

This one is probably a no-brainer since there is so much impact on your knees. It also highlights the importance of getting your knees checked out and treated (to fix the problem, not just make the pain go away). Explosive exercises like the squat jump form the foundation of your speed and power training.

If you simply try to “train around” your knee pain, you will be missing out on some of your speed development.

Although you should steer clear of Squat Jumps – you can work on your drop squats to make sure you are getting your landing mechanics down. You see, poor landing mechanics will add a lot of compression and overload to your knees (it is also a risk factor for ACL tears), so you need to learn the correct movement pattern.

If you cannot see the video above, click here

Do 2 sets of 6 reps, holding your landing position for 3 seconds.

Naturally, if this gives you knee pain, then don’t do it.

3) Hurdle Hops

Even though you might be using micro hurdles, there will be a lot of landing impact on your knees with this power/agility drill, so you should avoid these drills until your knees feel better.

Once you have mastered your landing mechanics and you can do your squat drops pain free, then you can move on to a box hop up, which will give you the explosive power you want from your legs, but decrease the landing impact.

Remember to step down after each jump up; do not jump back down to the floor off the box.

If you cannot see the video above, click here

Start with 2 sets of 4 reps, but make sure your mechanics are perfect.

So there are a few substitutions you can make while you are getting your knee pain sorted out with your health care provider. Remember, even if you are using a substitution and it is bringing on your knee pain or making it worse, then try lightening the load or reducing your range of motion. If it is still sore, then leave it out.


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