How To Modify Squats After A Knee Injury

As we all know, the squat is an essential lower-body strengthening exercise. It is a functional exercise and it also builds muscle mass. Anyway, the knee joint has a delicate structure and is susceptible to injuries while doing squats. If you noticed any kind of knee pain during your squat workout, or have some knee injury, some squat modifications can keep you going until you heal.

How To Modify Squats After A Knee Injury

  • Limit the range of motion

In the regular squats the goal is to bend the knees and lower the hips until 90-degree angle and thighs parallel with the ground, with the feet at hip-width apart. But, after an injury, modify the squats by not bending so far down and concentrate on placing more bend in the hips than knees. The result: your knee will receive less torque since it’s not moved forward as much. Try to avoid weights while doing the squats after a knee injury, even if you feel you can do more weight this way.

  • Distance between the feet

Instead of keeping your feet at hip-width apart, widen your stance. Keep the knees and toes pointing forward to maintain proper form. This stance will allow you to support a straight spine and reduce the pressure on the lower back as well. You should feel the difference immediately.

  • Place the heels on a slightly raised platform or a ramp

One of the concerns with squats and knee injury is the lack of flexibility in the ankles. The lack of flexibility may cause even more discomfort. You can reduce the discomfort by placing the heels on a platform or a ramp.

  • Change where you hold the weight 

Modify the squats after a knee injury if you’re using weights by changing where you hold the weight. For example, if you usually place a barbell across the upper back, switch to holding a dumbbell in each hand, and the arms at your sides.

A recommendation by the American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM: Always use proper form whether you’re performing a regular or modified squat. 


  • Exhale on exertion
  • Lower with control 
  • Keep the spine straight
  • Keep the knees behind the toes
  • Increase the weight gradually 
  • Don’t perform fatigued
  • Limit the reps when your form suffers
  • Recovery time between training sessions 
  • If your knees hurt – stop the squat immediately 

As we said before, the squats are very effective muscle-builder, but they should always be done with caution. If you experience any lasting knee pain, please speak with your physician to rule out any of the serious, long-lasting injuries (such as torn meniscus).

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