Difficulty Squatting Because of Pain

“How to Put an End to Pain and Stiffness While Squatting - Without Taking Painkillers, Without Risking Surgery and Without Having to Wait to See the Doctor!”

If you experience pain, stiffness or an achiness while squatting, you’re not alone. It’s very tempting to think that it’s nothing - that it will go away on its own. Maybe you pushed too hard getting a few extra reps in, wanted to finish your WOD or felt pressure to achieve a personal best. Perhaps you pass it off as having just “tweaked” your knee or back, or thought that it’s just “stiffness” that everyone your age suffers from ...

Too often, experiencing pain during squats or heavy lifts is seen as just something that happens as we age and a part of getting stronger … it’s just inevitable … grin and bear it to stay strong! It is very possible you are surrounded by many fellow athletes that are stiff and achy after lifts. A common discussion at your bootcamp or CrossFit class is nursing a lower back issue or knee problem. Many members are talking about taking Advil or natural supplements, but you keep hearing about the same issues week after week after week.

Just because pain during squats is a common complaint doesn’t mean that it’s normal, and it also doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed. Slowly, as we avoid things that hurt or cause us to feel uncomfortable, we lose our mobility. It isn’t always apparent early on when you start having problems squatting because you mask the symptoms of achiness and stiffness through the use of supplements and medications or creams that take the edge off … but they are NOT the solution. Frankly, many of these are just placebos that give you relief, but they avoid a person getting to the root of the problem.

In some cases, knee pain is coming from your back or hip. In these complicated scenarios, often only sports specialists can figure out this complex problem and know how to treat it correctly. A tight ankle can cause problems for your squat just as much as a weak core. Most times, rest is offered as a solution, which can be the worst thing to do. “Stop if it hurts” is a mantra by many doctors who don’t lift and aren’t specialists in these types of injuries. After a while, the injury is not the issue; instead it’s atrophy and tightness that occurs as we wait for everything to heal. Significant atrophy can occur in days, not months. That’s right … DAYS.

Many of our athletes relate to problems in a couple of areas. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t figure it out alone! The good news is that - with the proper care from a specialist in back, hip and knee issues - he or she can evaluate and set you on the right course of care! Sometimes, knee pain is coming from a tight hip that isn’t even painful. We don’t treat symptoms, we treat causes and the origin of your problem.

Most people comment that there was no obvious reason why it happened and/or it doesn’t seem to be improving like it did in the past! “I just moved quickly and then it started,” or, “I just woke up really stiff and it never got better.”

If that’s happening to you, you’re not alone. We hear this type of thing all the time. In fact, knee, shoulder and back problems related to squatting and various types of lifting are one of THE most common problems that we see in our physical therapy clinic in Paramus, New Jersey.

And, when it comes to these problems, everybody we see wants to know,

“Why is This Happening to me?”


“I’m Really Feeling Old and Just Haven’t Been Able to Squat Like I Used to Because it Always Makes My Knee, Hip or Back Pain Worse!”


“Why Am I Still Suffering With Pain While Lifting - Especially Squatting - After Putting Up With it For SIX Months (Maybe More)?”

Many people have told me they have forgotten what it was like without having pain, stiffness or achiness. You should not assume that it can’t change just because it has been there for awhile. Just because it is chronic doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed …. or that it will require complex solutions like surgery or injections.

Most people think that when they get pain while lifting, it’s just going to go away on its own. They figure they’ll just lift lighter or avoid a deadlift, cleans or squats for a week. It may help short-term, but as you rest (often way too long), it causes weakness to develop, and over the years, it gets harder to do simple things like getting out of a couch or off the floor after playing with your kids. You start wondering how you got to this point.

Many believe that they’ll wake up one morning and like “magic”, it’ll be as if the pain never happened. Then, 6 months later, you’re still living with the discomfort and you keep skipping and modifying your workouts. Often, it is even worse than it was when it first came on. By taking pills, using topical creams, wearing a weight belt, resting, foam rolling or hitting it with a massage gun, we merely hide the root cause of most conditions.

Does That Sound Like You?

Another scenario we see all the time in our physical therapy clinic is when people go to the doctor’s office and the doctor tells them to “rest and try these painkillers or anti-inflammatories (like Mobic or Naproxen) and see how it goes.” The doctor may even give you a couple exercises or tell you squatting or deadlifting is bad for your knees (WRONG!!!) or that lifting heavy weights will harm you. Poor form, lack of preparation and progressing too rapidly is typically where injuries come from and - most importantly - EGO gets in the way. We start lifting to compete with others, not ourselves.

This is rarely ever the best advice and often, 6 weeks later, they end up having troubling squatting and going right back to the doctor again because it hasn’t got any better. You may have heard this: “You know ... you are getting older!” That’s an easy way to avoid a thoughtful solution. Worse, they’re often given yet another prescription of even stronger pills and advised MORE rest. This is absolute madness and explains why so many people aged 30-60 years old are suffering with chronic knee, hip, shoulder, neck and back pain.

You may ask yourself why you should believe your pain with squatting or any of your Olympic lifts is going to change after seeing an MRI showing torn cartilage or a bulging lumbar disc, or an X Ray that shows arthritis in your knee. This can’t be further from the truth! In fact, many people have these same changes on an MRI and X Ray and don’t have any pain. You need a specialist to understand all the pieces of the puzzle.

Has This Type of Thing Happened to You?

Why else do chronic joint problems last longer than they should ? Well, it’s easy to get confused because you’ve been told so many different things by different people. There’s lots of people out there who are happy to dispense advice - keep in mind that not all of it is credible.

“Use this ‘miracle’ cream,” ... “Take this ‘magic’ pill,” … “Wear this ‘fancy’ brace.”

All may be helpful in the short term, but never get to the origin of the problem. While you do these things, you slowly get tighter and lose strength while pretending it will go away.

I’m amazed how simple changes to an athlete's form can make the difference in pain coming on. Simple solutions like pushing your knees out, improving hip or ankle mobility, or breathing correctly can make HUGE differences in how you feel and perform. Another 10 minutes of foam rolling is probably not the answer.

Maybe you think your condition was caused by doing something - like a class you didn’t warm up for or an old sports injury - but really it was caused by years and years of not listening to the signs of a problem until you became weak, and maybe gained a few pounds because you can’t exercise over a period of days ... then months … then years. This cycle just REPEATS. Then, you go for a hike with your family and you start having knee pain that doesn’t stop with rest. It becomes a case of simply the “straw that broke the camel's back” from years of hoping it would just go away.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, chronic joint pain can be very confusing. Because of this, many people just end up accepting it as “part of life” - as if it’s normal and “just the way it is.”

“My dad had this. I guess it runs in the family.”

Slowly, you LIMIT or STOP your activities you love like golf, tennis, bootcamp classes or squatting down to lift up your kids or grandkids because everything seems to make it worse. Over time, your body deconditions out of fear of making things worse and not believing you have options. Gradually, you become deconditioned, feel stiffer and stop doing more and more things you enjoy in life.

Do You Feel That Way Too?

If You’re Currently Living With Joint Pain (Both Acute and Chronic), Here’s 7 More Reasons Why it Could Be Lasting Longer Than It Should:

  • You thought it would go away on its own - but it didn’t.
  • You went to the doctor who told you to rest and take painkillers, but the pills did nothing to help you squat better, and as soon as they wore off, knee pain and stiffness returned again.
  • A family member or friend told you that everybody gets aches and pains as they get older, so you just accept it and stop acting like you’re a teenager and lift lighter.
  • You tried other healthcare professionals or a physical therapist in the past, but nothing they said or did seemed to help. Often, a “cookie cutter” approach is employed by someone that doesn’t even understand the type of exercises you do!
  •   You tried YouTube exercises, but they either didn’t do a thing or made your condition ten times worse!
  • You thought it would be a good idea to rest because your knee, hip and back pain was so bad, but all that did was make it feel even more stiff and tight. You gradually lighten your exercises, but that still doesn’t seem to work.
  • You decided to get a few massages or maybe acupuncture hoping that would fix the pain - all it did was feel nice and relaxing, but didn’t do anything to fix it in the long term.

If any of these have happened to you, we would love to help by inviting you to book a call to talk with one of our physical therapists to find out what can be done to help you. The fact that you’ve tried any or all of these things already is actually a GOOD THING because - when you know what doesn’t work - you are closer to finding the thing that does! 

Click the link below to book a call with us if you would like to get some solid advice given to you over the phone. The phone call is complementary and there is no obligation to book any appointments with us after the call is over. Our goal is to help you make the right decision about what to do next for the best possible outcome. We always focus on how we can help you make the best healthcare decision for you!

“What Can I Do to Get Rid of My Knee, Hip and Back Pain That is Making it Difficult to Lift ... QUICKLY?”

Well, here's 4 things you can do:

  • First, you need to make a decision about getting help. So many people procrastinate for so long, thinking that the knee pain will “just go away with time,” but then, 6 months down the line, they’re still putting up with it, and nothing’s changed … or, it gets worse.
  • Next, do the RIGHT exercises. One of the best things to help you ease your various painful joints and muscles is to do the right series of progressive exercises. The right exercises given to you by a physical therapist will help reduce pain, allow you to move freely again, quickly, and make sure that the problems don’t come back anytime soon (or aggravate your body even more like some exercises do).
  • Avoid sitting and lying down for long periods of rest. Have you ever tried to get up from the sofa after resting for a while, but you struggle because your knee, hip and/or back feels so painful and tight? That’s because one of the worst things you can do is shut down by resting and sitting for long periods of time. Too much rest and sitting in awkward positions makes your knees, hips and back stiff and tight. It would really help if you were given appropriate strengthening exercises for better mobility, alongside hands-on treatment, to get you active and healthy as quickly as possible.
  • Get real, “hands-on” physical therapy. Physical therapy is proven to help people with your types of problems. In fact, at Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we work with a TON of people who have your types of conditions and are trying to get back to their box or gym as soon as possible. If your painful, stiff and achy joints and muscles are stopping you from living an active life, physical therapy can help get you back to living the life you deserve as quickly as possible. We love seeing people go back to things they thought they had to live without, such as CrossFit, bootcamp classes, Pilates, tennis or running.

If you would like to know how the physical therapy team at Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation can help you live with less pain, we invite you to start with a completely FREE, no-obligation, zero-risk appointment at our clinic. Talk to our specialists to better understand your options:

Note: The Discovery Session is something that we offer to people who are very nervous or skeptical about physical therapy, unsure of its benefits or if it is right for them. If that sounds like you, then please start with a Discovery Session so that we can work with you to find out what is wrong and what can be done - without any financial risk on your part.

So the next question is:

“How Can Choosing to See a Physical Therapist at Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation Help You Get Rid of Your Chronic Joint and Muscle Pain - in The Next Few Days?”

Here’s just a few of the things our physical therapy team can do for you:

  • We can quickly take away the pain, achiness and stiffness that is present during squatting - often inside a couple of sessions.
  • We can help you find out what’s really going on and get to the root cause of your back, hip and knee pain once and for all - often inside 20 minutes.
  • Pain can “zap” you of your energy and limit a peaceful night's sleep. We can help you to enjoy sleeping at night and living with more energy each day. Without adequate sleep, it is almost impossible to recover!
  • We will ensure that your problem is “corrected” and “healed” properly, and we will provide you with the perfect set of exercises that will speed up your recovery.
  • We can help you put an end to taking all of those anti-inflammatories and painkillers that are no good for your health in the long-term.
  • We can help you avoid unnecessary surgeries and painful joint injections that make you feel better temporarily, but eventually don’t work.
  • We can help you keep out of the doctor’s waiting room or from making repeat visits ... only to be given more pills!
  • We can help you get back to enjoying quality time with family and friends that chronic joint and muscle pain has stolen from you.
  • We can help you to finally get a good night’s sleep without tossing and turning, trying to find that one position that feels right.
  • We can help you to sit more comfortably without your knee, hip, neck or back being stiff and painful. You shouldn’t have to feel like you generally need to protect it with simple activities around the home.
  • We can help you understand things you can “do” and things “to avoid” on day one at home to prevent you from feeling hesitant and fragile and less apt to want to move.
  • We can help you start focusing on moving without thinking about a “setback” - concentrate on doing what you enjoy doing!

Basically, we can help you get back to living life free from a recent episode or long standing joint and muscle pain. Pain is NOT a lifestyle you should accept.

If you want to know what it costs and what availability we have at our physical therapy clinic, Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation, then please just click the button below and complete the short form:

“Hear From Happy Patients of The Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation”

Please enjoy watching stories of other people with pain when squatting just like you who came to see the physical therapy team at Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation - and left much healthier and happier:



40's Teaneck, NJ

"From the moment you walk in the door between Kathy greeting you and Tom's assistance, helping you out and getting everything done, you're home. You're with a family. They're taking care of you. As a mom, it made me feel safe knowing my son was getting the absolute best care in the absolute best way possible."



50'S Ridgewood, NJ

"He knows the craft really well. And then he tailors a plan that's unique to your kind of requirement, what you're trying to get to. It is about you. It is a cool atmosphere that has kind of a good, cool buzz, which makes you feel comfortable, which makes you feel like you can accomplish what you want to accomplish."



70's Wyckoff, NJ

"I have known Tom Willemann of Apex for a very long time. And have over the years sent many of my clients who've become patients of his, all of whom have had absolutely excellent results. I can't say enough. Nice things about apex. It's been a wonderful experience.