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Old 08.06.2011, 15:19
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Sore knee from single leg squats

So I'm trying to strengthen my quads for longer (30k+) runs. I was advised on doing single legs squats with about 10-15 kilo's on the bar.



I do about 10 on each leg before it feels like enough. Recently the outside of my left knee has felt different after doing these squats. The next time i went for a run the front of my left knee started hurting after 15 mins. It felt like the kind of pain i couldn't run through without causing serious damage.

I took a week off running and did lot's of icing. Last Sat i tried to do my normal 15k run and my knee started hurting again after about 50 mins. I walked the rest of the way back (no pain when walking).

Running downhill seems to set it off and walking down stairs doesn't feel good straight after either.

I have decided to take a month off and stop the squats to see if it helps. Maybe my technique was wrong or the weight was too much ?

Would cross training on the elliptical trainer be OK whilst i am not running ?

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 08.06.2011, 15:31
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

A single-legged squat has much greater demands on body stability, and places more pressure on your joints than a two-legged squat as the weight is much more pronounced on a single leg when you do the exercise... so this will very likely be why you are experiencing pain after doing them.

Does doing two-legged squats cause you any pain afterwards too?
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Old 08.06.2011, 15:34
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

get yourself down the physio asap before you do more and irreversible damage
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Old 08.06.2011, 15:35
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

I dont do any of those squat things and Ive got a gammy knee too.
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Old 08.06.2011, 15:40
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

The picture you illustrate is a lunge, not a single leg squat. The symptoms you describe sound like pre patellar pain. This is usually caused by a weakening of the medial quadriceps muscle relative to the other three quads. This causes your kneecap to be pulled slightly to the side when you activate your quads.

The knee cap runs along a groove and if it's pulled to the side you get pain due to this. The medial quadricep is actually only used in the last 15-20 deg of knee extension. If you look at the position in the lunge pictures the knee never gets to extend beyond about 15deg!

A proper single leg squat will have you extending the knee fully (but not locking it straight) and will end up working on the medial muscles too. I would recommend building up by doing non weighted single leg squats to about 20deg of knee flexion and going no further. Slowly build this up and at the same time work on flexibility of the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and ITB. This should sort out your problem with a bit of time.

Also be very careful with any type of squat or lunge that the knee never goes forward of the toes at any point during the exercise.
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Old 08.06.2011, 15:50
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

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The picture you illustrate is a lunge, not a single leg squat. The symptoms you describe sound like pre patellar pain. This is usually caused by a weakening of the medial quadriceps muscle relative to the other three quads. This causes your kneecap to be pulled slightly to the side when you activate your quads.

The knee cap runs along a groove and if it's pulled to the side you get pain due to this. The medial quadricep is actually only used in the last 15-20 deg of knee extension. If you look at the position in the lunge pictures the knee never gets to extend beyond about 15deg!

A proper single leg squat will have you extending the knee fully (but not locking it straight) and will end up working on the medial muscles too. I would recommend building up by doing non weighted single leg squats to about 20deg of knee flexion and going no further. Slowly build this up and at the same time work on flexibility of the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and ITB. This should sort out your problem with a bit of time.

Also be very careful with any type of squat or lunge that the knee never goes forward of the toes at any point during the exercise.
Thanks for that info, it's very clear.

Do you think cross training in the mean time would be a bad idea ? (It's not sore unless i run)

Also, how long do you think it would take to recover from this issue ?
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Old 08.06.2011, 16:35
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

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Thanks for that info, it's very clear.

Do you think cross training in the mean time would be a bad idea ? (It's not sore unless i run)

Also, how long do you think it would take to recover from this issue ?
That's a how long is a piece of string question. If there is no damage then you could be back in action, but slowly building up what you can do in a week, if there is inflammation at the back of the knee cap it could be a few weeks. If the trochlear groove is already arthritic then it's a case of pain management.

As for the cross trainer you can try at a low intensity and see what happens. If there is no pain slowly increase time or intensity (not both). Try to concentrate on getting a bit of extension in the knee.

Give it a week or so then do a short flat run and see if you experience any pain. If you experience pain rest a bit longer. If you don't build up the running very slowly over 2-3 weeks.
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Old 08.06.2011, 17:00
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

What EIRE said!!! It is usually the part of the quad that runs along the top and attaches on the inside of the leg.

The injury gets progressively worse over time - without you really noticing - IE nothing beyond normal tiredness/pain - until it finally becomes painful.

I had the same problems up to, running and then post first marathon. It took months before it was strong enough to run long distance again.
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Old 08.06.2011, 23:12
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

You probably have a tight IT band that needs to be loosened up....google search : self myofascial release exercises

Went through the same problem....still do if I don't regularly do these exercises.

good luck
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Old 09.06.2011, 14:12
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

Recommend you to try the Crossfit method of training, I've been really happy with what they do and this includes squats and lunges.

Crossfit Zrich
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Old 09.06.2011, 14:32
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

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Also be very careful with any type of squat or lunge that the knee never goes forward of the toes at any point during the exercise.
a bit academic for me since i don't do any exercise, but just curious as to why?
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:19
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

Pain with stairs as well..? Test it with biking...no pain ?.. probably ITB..(not a fool prof test though)..Don't exercise on the pain...You can take Ibuprofen for swelling not so much the pain...but always best to get a proper look by the Quack or Physio..

Also make sure the knee bend is inline with the foot and toes..

Stretch out the ITB..

Sit on floor with legs out in front. Bend one leg and cross over the other so that the foot is next to the outside of the straight leg. Gradually pull knee left (for the bent right leg) or right (for the bent left leg) so you can feel the side hip/butt cheek stretch.

Also similar to the one above but before moving the leg to be stretched take your bum off the floor by placing you hands behind you, then put the outside of the foot on the other knee (like when you are sitting on a chair with one foot resting on the other knee) and dip your bum towards the floor.

There are many others online..just a google away...

I do these every day (esp before and after a run) and have no ITB probs.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:40
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

I've had a similar problem for the last 2 years of my running life and know exactly what you are talking about. I increased my distance too quickly and injured my knee in the manner described by Eire. I now do leg strengthening exercise such as squats and lunges in conjuncture with my running and it has really helped to remove the pain in this area. Only problem is that it has moved to the front of the knee cap now and I have to figure out some new exercises to deal with this new problem .
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Old 10.06.2011, 14:37
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Re: Sore knee from single leg squats

Also form could be lacking while performing the exercise. similar to running technique you should form a near straight line from the trailing ankle joint, which is in flexion (as it is pushing you off the ground to propell you forwards), up thru your knee, hip and shoulder. This approxamate position means the all the major joints in the action so all the muscles can work to there max before going back into the recovery phase of leg motion.
You maybe unconciously using this same form while performing the exercise. from a biomechanical point of view, this means that with this slight lean forward your shoulder joint (observing from side on) would be over the knee of the lead leg as if goes forward and plants into the gound. as there now is exta load being placed on the leg this would mean that the majority of the load is spread over the knee (not so much a prob in running because it is only body weight and the mechanics of forward movement). If you feell more upright performing the exercise it will force the knee to stabilize and place extra emphasis on the Quad muscle and glutes, major muscles in running. Also as i mentioned before this forward lean can be attributed to lack of core strenght. Good form avoids injury, hits all the right muscle, hard, and protects and uses all the joints efficiently. Hope this paints a good picture for you and may lead to some answers.
PM me to chat further, i like talking fitness and the body in sport with people

Good luck!!!!
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