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Knee Pain Associated With Weight Lifting

author image Melissa McNamara
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Knee Pain Associated With Weight Lifting
Squats performed incorrectly can result in knee pain.

Knee pain can be frustrating for weight lifters since it can bring your workout routine to a stop. Due to the excess force you place on the knees during weight lifting, knee pain is a fairly common complaint. Most knee pain can be resolved at home, but if your pain is severe or does not get better with rest, see your doctor.

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Knee pain that’s associated with weight lifting is often caused by squats and lunges, which require excess force to be placed on the knee. During squats, the back of the kneecap is subjected to 7.5 times more force than usual. Patellar tracking problems, tendinitis and chondromalacia patella can cause knee problems for weight lifters. Patellofemoral pain, also known as runner’s knee, refers to numerous conditions that cause pain around the anterior portion of the knee. Although runners most commonly have this type of pain, the force placed on the knee during weight lifting can also cause the same types of knee problems.


If you have kneecap tracking problems, there will be wear and tear of the cartilage posterior to the patella. If this wear and tear is left untreated, it can result in chondromalacia which is excessive wear of the cartilage. Women most often develop patellar tracking problems because their hip joints are farther apart from the knee joints, causing the kneecaps to point out to the side. You may hear a popping sound inside your knee and pain if you sit for long periods of time. If you’re experiencing patellofemoral pain, you may feel a dull pain under or on the front of the patellar. Chondromalacia occurs in adolescents and young adults. Chondromalacia can result in pain after resting; general tenderness; or a grinding sensation.


Most knee pain caused by weight lifting can be treated with R.I.C.E. -- rest, ice, compress and elevate. An over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug can relieve discomfort during the recovery process. Do not perform squats or lunges during the recovery period since this can cause further damage and decrease your speed of recovery. Stretch and strengthen your hamstrings and quadriceps because this is an important part of treatment and prevention of future knee problems. Strong hamstrings and quadriceps help hold the kneecap in place. A deep tissue massage can also help relieve pain from tendinitis. Tape your knee while it recovers from any type of pain. Surgery is rarely needed unless fragments of damaged kneecap cartilage need removal or the kneecap needs to be realigned.


The first step in preventing knee pain from weight lifting is to perform the exercise correctly. If you’re unsure how to perform an exercise, do not do it until you have consulted with a personal trainer or physician. Avoid sudden changes in weight lifting intensity since you are setting yourself up for knee problems if you lift more than you can handle. Increasing the amount of weight and reps you complete needs to be a gradual process.

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