Knee popping while squatting

Any current injury or condition such as arthritis along with poor technique can result to knee popping while squatting. The knee popping can be described as snapping, clicking or grinding sensation.

The application of ice, stretching exercises and correct technique while squatting can help eliminate the knee popping. In severe cases of arthritis as well as injuries, it might require physical therapy or surgical intervention. A doctor should be consulted if the knee popping is painful or becomes worse.


Over time, the cartilage in the knees breaks down and deteriorates. This is called as degenerative joint disease or knee arthritis. While engaging in weight-bearing activities such as squatting, the bones in the knee joint rug against each other and cause the popping noise.

Even though arthritis could not be cured, the treatment can slow down the deterioration and reduce the symptoms. The treatment involves non-weight bearing exercises such as biking, anti-inflammatory drugs, orthotics and properly cushioned shoes.

Knee popping

It is vital to avoid any strenuous activity and apply an ice pack on the affected area 2-3 times in a day at 20-minute sessions.

Hyaluronic acid injections or glucosamine sulfate pills can keep the knees properly lubricated to minimize the symptoms. A doctor should be consulted before using any kind of supplement as well as discuss if there is a need for any type of injection. Additionally, physical therapy or knee replacement surgery might be required for persistent or worsening symptoms.

Meniscal tear

The normal wear and tear along with twisting movements can cause the menisci to fray and eventually tear. Some pieces of the torn meniscus have the tendency to catch which results to knee popping during movement such as squats.

Getting enough rest, application of ice, compression and elevation can help reduce the pain and inflammation but arthroscopic surgery is usually required to deal with meniscal tears as well as stop the knee popping.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome

This condition occurs once the cartilage behind the patella frays which leads to knee popping and pain or even a grinding sensation. Misalignment and overuse of the knees, hips and ankles can cause the condition.

It is vital to avoid any strenuous activity and apply an ice pack on the affected area 2-3 times in a day at 20-minute sessions. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can also be used to manage the symptoms.

A neoprene sleeve can be worn to provide support to the knee while performing activities. There are also supportive shoes and orthotics that can help with the alignment of the knee as well as minimize the symptoms.

What are other possible causes?

The knee popping linked to an injury can be due to the movement of gases, tendons or ligaments in and around the knee joints.

The gases such as nitrogen and oxygen inside the knees have the tendency to shift while squatting which produces the popping sound in the knee.

Poor technique and alignment of the hips, ankles and knees as well as tight muscles can increase the risk for the knee popping. If the individual shifts weight too far forward, it increases the pressure and strain on the knees. Remember that this can cause further stretching of the joint capsule, release of gas and the perceivable popping.

The knee popping can be prevented by warming up with a light jog or walk as well as stretch before squatting. When performing squats, push the hips and bend the knees at a 90-degree angle. Always keep most of the weight in the heels while the abdominal muscles stay firm and the back straight.


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