I read a while back that to get any real benefit from squats and lunges one should come down low past parallel. Indeed it has been encouraged in my Quads & Core classes (without weights), although the instructor says only come down as low as you can.
I have been squatting with a barbell past parallel for a while (at least a year), but recently I've had knee pain when coming past parallel. I don't feel it is sensible to continue squatting whilst this is happening. An odd "crunching" sensation and sound has began to happen as well.
My question is whether I am going to benefit from squats & lunges if they are not below parallel, or if I should do some other exercises instead?