Knee Pain from Lifting: Root Causes and Treatment

Written by: Nurudeen Tijani

The article below explains the root causes of knee pain from lifting weights. However, if you want an immediate solution, you can get instant access to TitaniumPhysique. Our video program will guide you to a pain-free lifting experience. Ready to get started?

3d Illustration of a Man Feeling Knee Pain

KEY TAKEAWAYS


  • Knee Pain from Lifting: Athletes experience knee pain when lifting weights due to tight glute, hip, quadriceps, and lower leg muscles that strain and inflame the knee tendons.
  • Causes of Pain: The root causes of this pain are chronic inflammation, lack of magnesium, and muscle tightness.
  • Injuries and Conditions: Knee issues associated with weight training include patellar and quadriceps tendonitis, popping, clicking, weakness, and instability in the knee.
  • Treatment and Prevention: To fix or prevent knee problems, keep the quadriceps and lower leg muscles pliable through self-myofascial release exercises.
  • Concerns with Traditional Solutions: Traditional remedies alleviate symptoms without addressing the root cause of the pain. Holistic solutions like the TitaniumPhysique Program are designed to treat, fix, and prevent knee problems.

Knee Pain: Why It Happens and How To Fix It


When you lift weights, the quadriceps and hip flexor muscles become stiff and tight over time due to overuse. These tight muscles overstretch and cause inflammation in the quadriceps tendon, patellar tendon, and knee joint. This circumstance results in tendon injuries and pain in the knee during exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, leg presses, deadlifts, and leg extensions. Knee pain is common among athletes and those involved in weight training.

Root Causes of Knee Pain


What causes knee tendonitis and knee pain in athletes and weight lifters, and why does it happen? The root causes of knee pain are:

  1. Chronic Inflammation
  2. Magnesium Deficiency
  3. Muscle Restriction
3D Illustration of man with burning knee pain, human musculoskeletal system with knotted muscles

Root Cause #1: Tendonitis and Chronic Inflammation


Weight training builds and strengthens muscles, but it also inflames tendons, ligaments, and joints in the body. When the workout targets or involves the knee, (e.g. squats, lunges, leg presses, leg extensions, deadlifts), it inflames the knee tendons and joints.

Inflammation of the knee tendons causes a “burning” sensation of pain around the knee. The condition is a type of tendonitis known as quadriceps tendonitis and patellar tendonitis.

The burning feeling and pain around the knee are signs of acute inflammation – meaning the pain is temporary. With time, the body heals the knee tendons, and the pain goes away. However, when the knee tendons cannot heal and recover, and the inflamed tendon pain continues for three months or more, it becomes a chronic inflammatory condition.

Chronic inflammation is a state where the inflammatory process that enables the body to heal injured muscles, tendons, and ligaments is not working, and the body is no longer able to heal on its own. In this case, it leads to chronic knee tendonitis. Left untreated, chronic inflammation in the knee becomes degenerative and leads to irreversible deterioration of the knee joint.

Athletes, gymgoers, and weight lifters with knee pain experience pain and discomfort in the knee during the following:

  • Squats (Back or Front Squats)
  • Deadlifts (Conventional or Sumo Deadlifts)
  • Lunges (Walking Lunges, Reverse Lunges)
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Leg Press
  • Leg Curls
  • Leg Extensions
  • Box Jumps
  • Speed Skater Jumps
  • Step-ups

Root Cause #2: Magnesium Deficiency


Calcium helps muscles contract. Magnesium helps muscles relax. When the body has excess calcium (which is often the case), muscles cannot relax and remain tense. When a muscle is tense, it pulls and puts tension on the tendons and joints, which inflames the tendons and causes pain, in this case – knee pain.

Magnesium also dissolves calcium and prevents the calcification of soft tissues. Calcification occurs when there is excess calcium in the body. Calcification hardens soft tissues like tendons and muscles. In this case, calcification of the quadriceps muscle and tendon leads to quadriceps tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, and knee pain.

According to The Magnesium Miracle (which is a scientific reference on the health effects of magnesium on the body), heavy exercise, physical activity, and factors such as caffeine, stimulants, diuretics, stress, and dehydration, deplete magnesium in athletes.

As such, it is crucial for athletes and those involved in weight training to actively replenish magnesium in the body.

40% of magnesium in the body is found in the muscles. Twitching muscles, muscle cramps and muscle spasms are signs of low magnesium levels in the body.

The Magnesium Miracle - Discover the Missing Link to Total Health, By Carolyn Dean, MD, ND

Root Cause #3: Muscle Restriction


Illustration of musculoskeletal pain and knotted muscle trigger points

When you lift weights and perform exercises that target or involve the knee, the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstring muscles contract, become stiff and tight, and after some time, lose their elasticity.

Muscle restriction occurs when inelastic muscle fibers become shortened and unable to release and lengthen back to their normal relaxed state.

In the case of knee pain, lifting a weight that’s too heavy, or using bad form overstretch the quadriceps muscle and causes them to become restricted. This is usually the trigger that initiates the knee pain. When the quadriceps muscle gets restricted, they become shortened and get tighter.

Tight quadriceps muscle pulls and puts tension on the quadriceps tendon. As a result, it inflames the knee and causes knee pain when lifting weight and during exercise. In some cases, restricted muscles also causes instability and weakness in the knee.

Athletes, gymgoers, and weight lifters with restricted quadriceps experience:

  • Sharp or severe pain in knee while lifting
  • Burning pain in knee joint after lifting
  • Instability and weakness in knee when lifting
  • Difficulty and pain bending knee after working out
  • Difficulty and pain straightening knee after working out
  • Clicking and popping of knee joint and patella while working out

TAKEAWAY: Root Causes of Knee Problems

  1. Inflammatory tendon pain (caused by strain and inflammation of the quadriceps femoris tendon that attaches to the patella)
  2. Magnesium deficiency (which causes muscle pain and tendon pain)

  3. Muscle pain (caused by stiff, tight, and restricted quadriceps, glutes, and hamstring muscles)

Ready to start lifting without pain or injury?

Get instant access to TitaniumPhysique. My program will guide you to a pain-free lifting experience.

Nurudeen Tijani, founder of TitaniumPhysique

Knee Injuries, Conditions, and Symptoms


This section of the article will cover the types of knee tendonitis and knee pain-related conditions athletes experience when lifting weights or during exercise, including:

  1. Knee tendonitis (quadriceps tendonitis and patellar tendonitis)
  2. Clicking and popping of the kneecap (patella) or knee joint
  3. Instability and weakness
    Muscles anatomy of quadriceps muscles, quadriceps tendon, patellar ligament, hamstrings, and leg

    Muscle anatomy chart of thigh and leg. The thigh comprises the quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius) and hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris). The leg muscles include the gastrocnemius, soleus, fibularis longus, and tibialis anterior. The thigh and leg muscles contribute to knee tendonitis, knee pain, and knee instability and weakness.

    Quadriceps Tendonitis


    Quadriceps tendonitis is a type of knee tendonitis where pain occurs at the top of the knee, above the patella. It’s also common to experience pain on the inside or outside part of the knee. To fix and get rid of it, we need to target and release all four quad muscles: rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and vastus intermedius.

    These four thigh muscles combine into one tendon (quadriceps tendons) that inserts into the patella. When the quad muscles and quadriceps tendon get restricted, it pulls on the kneecap and causes knee pain during squats, lunges, leg extensions, deadlifts, and leg presses. Releasing these muscles will also get rid of pain on the inside or outside part of the knee.

    Patellar Tendonitis


    Patellar tendonitis is a form of knee tendonitis where pain occurs below the kneecap. This pain is caused by strain and inflammation of the patellar ligament. The patellar ligament is a tissue that connects the kneecap to the shin bone. Patellar tendonitis is an extension of quadriceps tendonitis. By fixing quadriceps tendonitis, we also address and get rid of patellar tendonitis.

    Clicking And Popping Of The Kneecap (Patella) and Knee Joint


    It is common for athletes and weightlifters to experience clicking and popping of the kneecap and knee joint during leg extension and leg press. There are two causes for this.

    1. When the quadriceps muscle gets restricted, they pull on the quadriceps tendon and kneecap, which causes a “clicking and popping” sound in the kneecap during exercise. To fix and resolve the clicking and popping of the kneecap, we need to target and release the quadriceps muscle.
    2. The thigh bone (femur) attaches to the leg bones (fibula and tibia) to form the knee joint. When the leg muscles (fibularis longus, gastrocnemius, and soleus) get restricted, they pull on the leg bones (fibula and tibia), which causes a "clicking and popping" sound in the knee joint during exercise. To fix and resolve the clicking and popping of the knee joint, we need to target and release the leg muscles (fibularis longus, gastrocnemius, and soleus).

    Instability And Weakness In The Knee


    Instability and weakness in the knee are caused by restricted glutes, leg muscles (gastrocnemius, soleus, fibularis longus), and hamstring muscles. The quads are the power muscles of the thigh. The hamstrings are the stabilizing muscles of the thigh. The hamstrings, along with the leg muscles, help stabilize the knee. When the hamstrings and leg muscles become restricted, it causes instability and weakness in the knee. To fix and resolve instability and weakness in the knee, we need to target and release the hamstrings and leg muscles.

      A young man at gym performing tradition back squats with good form

      A young man performing traditional back squats at gym. The traditional squat exercise involve the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, spinal erectors, and leg muscles. Traditional squats and other squat variations can aggravate quadriceps tendonitis and patellar tendonitis. Athletes and weight lifters might also experience instability and weakness in the knee during squats.

      A man and woman performing dumbbell walking lunges at gym

      A man and woman performing dumbbell walking lunges. The lunge exercise involve the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and leg muscles. Lunges, including walking lunges, standing lunges, or lateral lunges, can aggravate quadriceps tendonitis and patellar tendonitis. Athletes and weight lifters might also experience instability and weakness in the knee during lunges.

      A muscular woman at gym performing leg press

      A young woman performing leg press on a Leg Press machine. The leg press exercise involve the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and leg muscles. Leg press can aggravate quadriceps tendonitis and patellar tendonitis. Athletes and weight lifters might also experience instability and weakness in the knee during leg press.

      A muscular man at gym performing leg extension exercise

      A man performing leg extensions on a Leg Extension machine. The leg extension exercise involve the quadriceps and leg muscles. Leg extensions can aggravate quadriceps tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, or "clicking and popping" of kneecap. Weightlifters might also experience instability and weakness in the knee during leg extensions.

      A weightlifter at gym, wearing lifting gloves and performing deadlifts

      A man performing traditional deadlifts. The traditional deadlift is a compound exercise that targets the major muscle groups in the body, including the shoulders, arms, back, glutes, thighs and leg. Deadlifts can aggravate quadriceps tendonitis and patellar tendonitis. Athletes and weightlifters might also experience instability and weakness in the knee during deadlifts.

      Ready to start lifting without pain or injury?

      Get instant access to TitaniumPhysique. My program will guide you to a pain-free lifting experience.

      Nurudeen Tijani, founder of TitaniumPhysique

      How To Fix Knee Pain (3-Step Process)


      What is TitaniumPhysique? It is a fast and effective way to fix and prevent tendonitis and pain from weight training, including:

      1. Sharp or severe pain in the knee while lifting
      2. Burning pain in the knee after lifting
      3. Instability and weakness in the knee when lifting
      4. Difficulty and pain bending knee after working out
      5. Difficulty and pain straightening knee after working out
      6. Clicking and popping of knee joint and kneecap while working out

       It is based on current and extensive scientific research relating to the following: tendinopathy, sports medicine and sports injury, musculoskeletal pain treatment and management, nutrition, supplementation, and, strength therapy and conditioning.

      As an athlete and weightlifter, I created the TitaniumPhysique Program for athletes and anyone who does weight training.

      I've combined these scientific studies and nine years of experience as a personal trainer, nutritionist, bodybuilder, physique athlete, and wellness coach to create the TitaniumPhysique Formula.

      To learn how and why the TitaniumPhysique Formula works, check out this helpful article about tendonitis.

      Here is an overview of how to fix knee pain using TitaniumPhysique:

      1. Reduce chronic inflammation in the body. When you reduce chronic inflammation, injured and inflamed knee tendons heal and recover faster.
      2. Supplement with magnesium to replenish muscle magnesium levels. Magnesium reduces inflammation and pain. Magnesium can help relax tense quadriceps muscles, and it can decalcify the quadriceps tendons, patellar ligament, and knee joint.
      3. Massage the thigh and glute muscles. You can use myofascial pain relief tools, like a massage ball, to massage and release the quadriceps muscles, hamstrings, and glutes.

      The rest of this article will focus on step three of the TitaniumPhysique Program: how to use myofascial release to alleviate knee problems.

      Release Restricted Muscles to Treat and Fix Knee Pain


      Restricted quadriceps muscles pull and put tension on the quadriceps tendon, which causes knee pain. When you release tight muscles in the thigh and glutes (e.g. quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes), it will increase elasticity in the quadriceps tendon and immediately reduce knee pain.

      Step 3 of the TitaniumPhysique Formula focuses on releasing chronically tight and restricted muscles in the thigh and glutes to stimulate repair and fix knee pain. Chronic knee tendonitis cannot heal if the body is in a constant inflammatory state.

      After reducing chronic inflammation, we can heal knee injuries easier and faster.

      Photo collage of steps to fix knee pain, man wearing knee sleeves, human musculoskeletal anatomy of quadriceps, manual therapy tools, stretching quadriceps, strengthening knee

      Knee Pain Treatment Exercises


      Restricted quadriceps muscles that cause knee pain develop over many years. As such, it is necessary to use the correct treatment technique to get the best results. During this process, it is also vital to strengthen the knee by doing mobility and strengthening exercises for the knee joint.

      Strengthening exercises are therapeutic and can help the knee tendons heal faster and regain full strength for maximum performance. The following mobility exercises for knee pain target the stabilizing muscles of the knee joint and strengthen the knee tendons:

      1. Bosu Ball Squats
      2. Lateral Side-Steps
      3. Step Down Exercise
      4. One-Legged Squat
      5. Chair Squat

      The TitaniumPhysique Program consists of videos to release restricted quadriceps muscles and mobility exercises to strengthen and stabilize the knee joint.

      Self-Myofascial Release Tools for Knee Pain


      Myofascial release (SMR) tools, massage balls, foam roller, medicine ball for muscle pain relief

      Massage balls and foam rollers can effectively release tight quadriceps muscles and fix knee tendonitis. If you experience knee discomfort when lifting, these tools will help.

      The peanut ball can release the muscles at the front of the thigh. The foam roller can release the glutes and outer thigh muscles (vastus lateralis). The medicine ball can release the hamstrings.

      These myofascial pain relief tools treat knee pain and provide relief to the knee tendon and joint by releasing restricted quadriceps muscles.

      Summary


      Restricted quadriceps muscles pull and put tension on the quadriceps tendons and patellar ligament. As a result, the quadriceps tendons become inflamed and cause pain while lifting weights or after working out.

      The ROOT causes of knee pain from lifting weights are chronic inflammation, magnesium deficiency, and muscle restriction. Athletes and weight lifters with knee tendonitis experience the following when lifting or after working out:

      1. Sharp or severe pain in the knee while lifting
      2. Burning pain in knee joint after lifting
      3. Instability and weakness in the knee when lifting
      4. Difficulty and pain bending knee after working out
      5. Difficulty and pain straightening knee after working out
      6. Clicking and popping of knee joint and patella while working out

      Traditional remedies like painkillers, joint supplements, knee sleeves, knee braces, and topical anti-inflammatory creams can help with acute knee tendonitis but are not effective in treating chronic knee tendonitis. With traditional remedies, the tendonitis comes back and often gets worse as you continue to lift.

      To fix knee tendonitis and pain:

      1. Reduce chronic inflammation
      2. Replenish muscle magnesium levels
      3. Release restricted muscles

      The TitaniumPhysique program will show you the fastest way to reduce chronic inflammation, replenish muscle magnesium levels, and release restricted muscles. It can help you get rid of and prevent weight-lifting knee injuries.

      Tendonitis can turn your passion for fitness into a chore and rob you of the motivation to work out. Yet, everyone who lifts weights experiences knee tendonitis at some point. You don't have to give up your passion for lifting because of ineffective traditional tendonitis remedies.

      Ready to get started with TitaniumPhysique? Yes, I'm ready to eliminate pain.

      References

      • Understanding and Managing Chronic Inflammation
      https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-inflammation

      • The Magnesium Miracle (Second Edition) - Discover the Missing Link to Total Health, By Carolyn Dean, MD, ND
      https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Magnesium_Miracle_Second_Edition/2lBcDAAAQBAJ

      • Calcification
      https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002321.htm

      • The China Study Solution - The Simple Way to Lose Weight and Reverse Illness, Using a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet
      https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_China_Study_Solution/nrazCwAAQBAJ

      • The Acid Alkaline Balance
      https://www.pccmarkets.com/sound-consumer/2009-10/sc0910-acid-alkaline/

      TitaniumPhysique
      More Gains. Less Joint Pain. Guaranteed!

      A complete self-treatment program for joint aches, muscle pain, and tendonitis injuries. Created by athletes, for athletes.

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      Self-treat and fix knee injuries
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      Counteract and prevent knee pain

      Written by: Nurudeen Tijani

      Nurudeen (aka TJ) is passionate about helping people build the body they desire through weight training. He is a physique and fitness trainer, nutritionist, yoga instructor, vegan natural bodybuilder, National Physique Committee (NPC) competitor, and founder at TitaniumPhysique. Nurudeen is a member of the International Association Study of Pain (IASP) and the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA).

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