A bit of pretext: I've been having sporadic knee pains (left side) for the last 6 years now. I could never do any leg cardio like running or cycling. I went to four physicians/orthopedics, was x-rayed 2 times and went through 2 MRTs, with no results other then "you're still young and untrained, take it slow". The problem was no matter how slow I took it, my knee would hurt after, but seldom during, the exercise.

One day, some months ago I decided to screw it and go all out. Recklessly, I loaded up my barbell and started squatting. A funny thing happened, as my knees actually felt very healthy during the movement. What's more, my knees felt better the day after the squats too, and even more so as I progressed in weight lifted.

Six months later, I'm still having the occasional knee pain, but much less then before. Also, if I have this pain and do 3-5 bodyweight squats with good form, it goes away and stays away for several hours. It also works with back pain (from sleeping on a sofa, for example). Now there has to be some explanation, some physiological effect that I do not yet understand. If anyone could help me out and explain to me why squatting helps alleviate knee and back pain, I could probably use that effect more efficiently in the future.


1 Answer 1



Reading and anecdotal experiences have shown that weight squatting helps with knee pains.

While i can't give a resource-backed answer at the moment, my theory is that:

  • Squatting improves the strength of your body, including your thighs, overall legs, and body. Because the legs are now stronger, the muscles are more able to sustain the weight of the legs and that reduces the pressure on the knee joints.

If i can find a resource to back up the theory, i will update my answer with it.

Keep squatting :).

  • 1
    Yeah, the 'getting stronger over time' part makes sense. What I'm still wondering about is, why the pain goes away immediately when squatting.
    – user8119
    Mar 30, 2014 at 12:48
  • @LarissaGodzilla If you've performed pushups or pullups, you should immediately feel an increase in your chest size after the exercise. Those muscles are temporarily hyper-activated. I suspect it's similar to the thigh muscles after squatting. The temporary hyper-activated effect on the thighs reduces the weight from your knee caps. Without a source proving otherwise, that's what I believe happened :). Mar 30, 2014 at 16:37
  • Sounds reasonable. That would also explain why higher weight has a better effect (more pump, more stabilisation).
    – user8119
    Mar 31, 2014 at 6:42
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    Strengthening the leg muscle around the knee will most definitely help to support the knee and help over time. Could it be the bodies natural endorphins that are kicking in whilst you are exercising? A little surprised it doesn't seem to hurt the next day though. Mar 31, 2014 at 9:57
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    @Tracyat2bactive: I had that theory too, some time ago. I discarded it because 'air-cycling' (lying on your back, doing cycling movements in the air) should have had the same effect, but didn't.
    – user8119
    Apr 3, 2014 at 16:06

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