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  • Writer's pictureDr. Brandon

5 Hacks to Prevent Knee and Back Pain in Squats or Lunges

Goblet Squat

Welcome back to movement Monday and here are 5 things you can do to get rid of knee and back pain during lunges or squats.

Reset Make sure you have enough room at the ankles. Do you come up on your toes when going down into a squat to try to get your squat lower, chances are you are running out of ankle mobility. Lacking mobility at the ankles makes it so we have to make up for it somewhere else. This means that other areas, especially the low back have to become more mobile to compensate for the ankles and when this happens in the low back is not a good thing. This equals more stress, which could lead to a disc injury from having to flex to make up for the ankle.

Ankle mobilization

For starters, we’ll do a simple ankle self mobilization with a belt or strap or with our opposite hand(using the left hand if mobilizing the right ankle. This allows us to keep our heels on the floor in both the lunge and the squat and can take the stress out of the low back.

Our setup is, with our lead leg on a mat in a half kneel position or a bench, place the strap on the top of the foot where it hinges, using your hands or other knee, hold the strap so that it pushes firmly into your ankle hinge then lunge forward pushing your knee past your toes. Repeat 15-20 times. While you’re here, treat all the motions of the joint where your shin and ankle come together by also going side to side with your mobilization.

Feel Deskbound and lacking mobility in the hips? This next movement will help you regain some of the lost extension to your hips.The half kneeling hip flexor exercise along with the foot on chair version are 2 of my go to’s when addressing loss of hip mobility especially if you have difficulty maintaining form or just feel tight in the trailing leg in a lunge.


Do your knees go towards each other in a squat, going up or down stairs, or in a lunge or have you had it pointed out that you pronate when you run or lunge? Chances are you are missing some control at the hip and the following 3 exercises are designed to restore control.

The side plank with clam/star

If we are missing some strength in our stabilizers of the hip, the side plank with clam or side plank star are our first stops to regaining control of our hip stabilizers. Set-up: Post up on one side on your elbow and knee, lift your hip off the mat then separate your knees like so

To increase the challenge, straighten the top leg and to further increase the challenge, straighten the bottom leg.

For all 3 you can either hold or perform repetitions to fatigue.

Assuming you have sufficient mobility in your ankles and your hips as well as sufficient strength to your hip rotators, the monster squat is your next stop for regaining control and preventing knee and low back pain during a squat Is the monster squat.

Set-up, Place a resistance band or loop around and above both knees, squat down resisting the pull of the band while also not rolling your ankles out(which is cheating on this exercise). Variant is the monster walk where you remain in the squat and then walk forwards and backwards maintaining your stance. Weights in the goblet squat position can be used to increase difficulty.

Our last stop this Movement Monday is the lunge with anchored resistance. Again, we’ll be using a resistance band again looped around and above our knee and anchored to something sturdy passing across your body(i.e. If it is on your right knee, it will be anchored on your left side). Step away from the anchor until you feel a pull then lower yourself into a lunge position(split squat) then return to your starting position. Again, weights can be used to increase difficulty.


These exercises are correctives and it means just that. Once you have achieved correction of your form or are no longer having back or knee pain with your squats or lunges, you can return to your normal strength programming.

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