Knee pain with squats is one of the most common reasons for either avoiding the leg exercise entirely or lifting far less than you should. The reason for much of this pain is due to pain in the patellar tendons. In this video, I show you not only the three things you want to do to make sure your tendons are properly warmed up and loose before you squat, but the exact routine I do that has been helping my knees feel much better.
To start, you have to make sure that you shorten the range of motion if you are going to work on your tendon readiness prior to squatting. I’m talking about literally just a few inches of motion at the knee joint. Next, you need to incorporate multidirectional movements into your routine. Preferably, you want to include movements in all three planes of motion; front, sagittal, and transverse. Finally, you want to be sure that you are not increasing the weights to two or three times what you would normally squat but rather less than what you would use.
If your tendons are really inflamed and stabbing when you try to squat, you will find that you can benefit from using no weights at all and simply performing the movements shown in this warmup circuit. That said, here is what this leg and knee tendon warmup will look like.
Do just 10 reps of the following exercises to get your patellar tendons and knees feeling loose before you start squatting.
Partial Pulse Squats x 10 reps
Side Step Pulse Squats x 10 reps in each direction
Drop Step Pulse Squats x 10 reps in each direction
Jack Pulse Squats x 10 out and 10 reps in
The goal here is to stay in the terminal range of motion and not be afraid to make the movements a bit ballistic in nature. Remember, your patellar tendons are going to need to be able to accommodate high level tensile forces if they are going to function properly. This can be accomplished by performing the reps of this leg and knee pain warmup routine rather quickly.
Transition from exercise to exercise without resting and be sure to contract the quads and hamstrings as you perform each rep. Try and perform this entire circuit two to three times before doing your first set of squats. You can also opt to do this again at the end of the workout to flush a bit more blood to the area and keep the knees feeling loose after your heavy work.
Feel free to use the routine as a quick leg finisher as well immediately following a set of heavier squats, deadlifts, etc. The burn will be appreciable and you will definitely feel the contraction. Either way, this will quickly become your go-to knee warmup even if you don’t have knee pain. It will just make you feel looser and more ready to attack your heavy sets.
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