Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Knee Two crunchy knees while squatting, one with very slight pain

Viewing 5 reply threads
  • Author
    • #70904
      AvatarPaul Robidoux

      Thank you to all who read this and can point me to the right direction either in Becoming a Supple Leopard or on this board.  I truly do appreciate it.

      I have gotten into exercise after a significant time as a couch potato.  I’m in my 30s so I don’t think I have arthritis or any major problems and I am not overweight so that shouldn’t impact my knees.  I hurt them a few years back in a fall but nothing that needed pain pills or an x ray.  I have enough exercise complaints that I thoguht it a good idea to get Becoming A Supple Leopard though.  I have some other ROM issues to restore but my body’s biggest problem is weirdness in the knees.

      If I do a standing leg curl there is no sound and everything feels fine. If I do anything but squat it feels fine.

      If I squat or lift a leg from the hip and then lift the knee (anything using the quadricep to straighten out), I can hear crunching like someone stepped on dry cereal and I know it is coming from my knee.  Just simply body weight stuff, no weights added.  For about five seconds after or during squatting I’ll feel a slight pain in the knee.  Basically put your right hand on your right knee and have the thumb on the left side edge of the right knee.  That’s where I feel it about a inch under the skin.

      BASL says to try specific drills as “world is round” proof that something works.  I tried flexion gapping the knee a lot for a few weeks and got nothing, along with a few of the other drills.  Zero “world is round” proof of improvement on the crunching sound or the occasional knee pain.

      My hip and hamstring flexibility were terrible.  Starret’s hip mobi with ER has shown major results with hip flexion and I have 3 inches or less of squat ROM to go to completely eliminate the Hip Wink Fault that plagued me for forever.  That was real progress on motion but had no effect on the knee at all.  I haven’t focused on hip extension but none of the hamstring drills worked for me.  I can lift a straight leg 45 degrees but that is it.  Also, the IT band feels tight no matter how often I tack and floss it.

      Worse, I don’t have a lot of spare time to try things that may or may not work.  Weeks of flexion gapping with no results feel kind of defeating, so I’d like something that can be tested with the “world is round” proof that Starret was writing about.

      I want to stay positive but I have done other stretching-type exercises before with no results and I don’t know what else to do.  I hope to be able to squat without pain and having everyone ask who is making popcorn because there are so many popping sounds from my knees while I squat.

      For reasons best left off the board I do not want x-rays or to see a physician. But a therapy based fix, either in BASL, on this site, or elsewhere  would be like gold for me.

      Thank you very much.


    • #74568
      AvatarNathan Richer

      have you tried voodoo flossing around your knee:

      after you do that around the knee, then you can start advancing the voodoo floss above the knee, inching your wrap up the quads.  then you can also go down the lower leg.  repeat the squat maneuver for each wrapping. i would also get 4 voodoo bands and you can do both legs at the same time.  you can also use a single band, wrapping both above and below the knee:

      then you can use only 2 bands for both legs.

      for reference here are some other good MWOD knee videos:

    • #74573
      AvatarPaul Robidoux

      That is a lot if information, both different from and complimentary to BASL.  Thank you very much David for taking the effort to share these.  It will take time to see and hear all of these but it also seems like the exercise stretch bands I have access to aren’t even close to the effect of bike tubing or the official voodoo floss bands.  Thanks for giving me a new and optimistic path ahead!


    • #74631
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      Hey G_T,

      Any chance you can provide some video footage of you squatting? It would provide mountains of diagnostic information.
      Also, you’re describing some pretty heavy mobility descriptions in your first post. Chances are that you have an absolute minefield of tissue problems all around that knee that are just flat out making that squat feel brutal. 
      One thing that is important to understand is that none of these mobility interventions are overnight solutions. Often, they can provide some great on-the-spot relief, but making true change takes consistency and intent. Think about it like this: you’ve been out of exercise for a long time. Your body is a wicked-awesome adaptive machine, and it has spent that entire time adapting your body to a sedentary lifestyle and to whatever poor movement habits that cultivated in you. It has been adapting to that stimulus for… years, I presume? Now you’re trying to make adaptations in the opposite direction. It may take quite a while to turn the ship around and get your body back into pain-free,supple, ninja-like status. It might not take as long, as the stimulus of intensive mobility work and exercise is a little more aggressive, but it does take a lot of consistent work and deliberate action.
      This is not meant in any way to discourage you, but to prepare you for the road ahead. It’s a big journey, but you’ve already taken the first few steps, and you’ll feel more awesome with each new mile you put behind you.
      Now, regarding your particular issue, the big red flag here for me is that you’ve only got a 45deg active straight leg raise (and that’s me assuming that you’re performing that with strict standards). This indicates that you are missing a considerable amount of fundamental hip range of motion and/or spine stability. All major lower body movements are going to depend on the basic qualities expressed in the ASLR. You’ve already begun working to open up your hamstrings (this will be a battle, that’s some heavy-duty meat), but you did not mention any mobility work for the quads, and I think getting after the front of the thigh is going to be important here. Your hamstrings and quads work in concert to create and control the movement of the knee, and problems in one or both of these groups can cause that knee to articulate in a not-so-hot fashion (grinding and pain, perhaps). Get on a foam roller, beg the Mother for mercy, and deal with some of that quad stiffness.
      Also worth exploring are your adductors (inside of the thigh). Speaking personally, adductor stiffness always causes inside knee pain along the joint line in my previously-injured knee, and I’ve noticed the same with several other individuals. Some of the muscles here travel far down the femur or even cross the knee, so tension here can be a significant problem. It would make sense for them to cause problems when squatting as well, since they are loaded when you push your knees out.

      If you can summon some video footage, we might be able to tell you more, and with more certainty. Good luck.
    • #74644
      AvatarPaul Robidoux

      Iron Tiger,

      Luckily it the knee pain is not “brutal” but just not good. I’m pretty sure I’m not in the “pain cave” Kstarr talks about so often, but I know it is not right.

      My current tools are the foam roller and some exercise stretch bands that I’ve used for things like pulling on the ankle for tensile forces and banded distraction. Interestingly, the hamstring rolling gives me zero “pain cave” effects, or any effects I can notice.  Rolling the front of the quads used to have a pain-cave effect but now also feels like nothing, and the side/IT band type rolling is still effective.  I feel like my shoulders are getting overworked with all that time in a side bridge though and might need shoulder therapy too 🙂

      Incidentally I was able to try out pressing into the adductors with a barbell.  Nothing particularly noticeable happened until I got to a barbell smash pressing right into the quad just above the area I get pain from squatting.  I was able to duplicate the pain from squatting MUCH more strongly just by pressing the barbell into the inner side of my leg and applying pressure to that part of my quads.  I can press VERY hard with my thumbs and still not get the same effect. Just mentioning this in case it helps the diagnosis.

      I hope to get some video up soon and will post ASAP.  It is incredibly generous that you would review it for me!


    • #74673
      AvatarKatie Hemphill

      Hey GT,

      The barbell smashes are magic, and I love them. Such a chill way to get at the quads and adductors.
      In regards to the hamstrings, though, you’ll probably find a foam roller next to useless for working on those suckers if they’re really stiff. I have decent hamstring length, but the tissue is really junky, tender, and generally messed-up. I always have to go at these suckers with the lacrosse ball, or get up on a barbell (Monkey Bars of Death mob). If you are lacking that kind of range of motion, I’ll wager your hammies are pretty messy, so don’t count them out until you’ve tried a more acute tool. They might just be beyond the powers of a foam roller to heal.
      Every time I strip my hamstrings apart with the lacrosse ball, though, I feel like I’ve been given a new set of legs. So much of the general tension and unpleasantness is relieved. I hope you get similar results!
Viewing 5 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.