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Why Your Knees Pop When You Squat

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Do you hear a sound from your knee and the surrounding joints? Perhaps more noticeable when you squat?

This condition is called knee popping. It usually comes with a sudden sharp and well-perceived noise from the knee joints.

These sounds vary and may sound like grinding, crackling, grating, or crunching. They are more prevalent when performing repetitive knee extensions and flexions or squats.

A normal knee pop may not signify a debilitating or severe problem. However, if it comes with pain and swelling of the affected area, it may likely be a serious case.

What Is Knee Popping?

The knee is a hinge joint connecting the tibia to the femur. It is a combination of bones, ligaments, cartilage, and synovium. Each of which further comprises tissues and fluids responsible for various knee functions.

Knee popping is also known as knee crepitus. It is characterized by sounds such as grinding, crackling, grating, or clicking around the knee.

Noises are usually prevalent when performing repetitive knee extensions and flexion or squats on the floor. There are differences in terms of noise frequency, duration, and loudness.

Popping is the most common knee sound. It is used to describe a sudden, sharp explosion and well-perceived sound in an injury situation. The precise onset of noise is yet to be known, however, there are two types of onset.

Acute onset of noise, often accompanied by pain and caused ligament injury.

Chronic noise. This type occurs gradually. It may sometimes occur occasionally or sporadically, depending on the cause. Recurring sounds may be caused by tears and cartilage injury.

Is It Normal To Have My Knee Pop When I Squat?

Squats and lunges are part of an exercise regimen. Exercise is a common activity today, it is approved and recommended by doctors and professionals for a healthier body, skin, and even well-being.

It comprises various workout types, including squats. During squats, you may or may not have noticed a certain type of sound in one or both of your knees. It could be in the form of popping, clicking, cracking noise.

Knee pops may not be serious or signify debilitating conditions. This is because the knee joints are usually a part of your body’s mechanics.

It is positioned to function in such a way that, when in use, it makes some level of noise. Although, noise in normal pops is not followed by pain.

This process is medically termed benign crepitus when popping sounds occur without pain and discomfort during squats or lunges.

However, popping sounds are accompanied by pain and swelling of the affected area. Then, it may be a severe case.

What Are The Causes Of Knee Popping?

Knee popping is caused by a variety of reasons. Two of the most common causes are;

Cartilage wear or injury

The cartilage cushions the tibia and femur, it also reduces friction between them when they meet. Wear and injury can occur when your kneecap rubs on the femur. This usually results in irritation and softening.

Meniscus Tear

The meniscus is a rubbery disc cushioning your knee and handles shock absorption. A sudden twist or turn in the surrounding joints can lead to a meniscus tear, usually when the knee moves without the foot in sync. There is a higher risk of tears in older people.

Gas Bubbles

Gas bubbles build up over time in areas surrounding the joints and form tiny bubbles in the synovial fluid. The synovial fluid lubricates the joints.

It is normal for bubbles to burst from time to time, most especially when you bend your knees. This then triggers the popping noise.

Stretched ligaments

The ligaments and tendons around the knee joints may stretch slightly when they come in contact with small bony lumps. A clicking noise arises when they snap back into place.


Wear and tear arthritis, popularly known as osteoarthritis, affects the frequently used joints and those that bear weight, such as the knee.

In osteoarthritis, a combination of mechanical stress and biochemical factors breaks down the cartilage cushioning the joints. This leads to inflammation, pain, and joint noises like crackling and crunching.


Knee noises are often more prevalent after surgery. Although sounds may have been there before surgery, they can get more noticeable afterward. This is because people are more observant during the post-op period.


Injury or physical trauma such as falling on your knee can cause damage to the kneecap and surrounding joints. It may affect the cartilage or ligaments depending on the severity of the injury.

Types Of Knee Popping

There are differences in the onset, duration, and symptoms accompanied. The 3 types of sounds that can help determine the cause of knee pain and popping, including;

Mechanical Popping

This is a low hum sound arising from deep within the joints. Mechanical pops are caused by loose cartilage and torn meniscus from a sports injury, squatting, forceful twists, hyper-flexing knee joints, and getting up after sitting for a long period.

Associated symptoms include frequent pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty flexing or extending the knees.


Crepitus is commonly known as joint damage, usually a sign of wear and tear arthritis. It develops from contacts between the joint’s rough surfaces when they rub together.

Signs of this condition are crunching sound, swelling, redness, malformation of knee structure, diminished or limited range of movement. Constant co-occurring pain is a sign of advanced joint damage.

Tendon Snapping

This is caused by swollen knee tendons. Snapping occurs when swollen tendons catch on knees, usually when you bend your knees back and forth. Tendon snapping is also associated with IT band tendonitis, a condition that causes pain in the outer parts of the knee.

Natural Home Remedies For Knee Pain

Sometimes knee pain does not always require a complicated procedure for treatment. There are simple home remedies that can help ease pain and provide relief. Such as;

Assess And Diagnose Your Pain

Consider the type of pain you experience. Is it moderate or severe?

Pain from strain, sprains, minor injury, or inflammation are easily self-managed, however, persistent pain requires immediate medical attention.

RICE Therapy

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation are applicable for knee strains or sprains from twisting your legs or falling. Raise the affected leg or feet, apply a cold compress to your knee and wrap with a compression bandage.

Do not tightly wrap around the affected area so you don’t cut off circulation. Keep your legs and feet elevated.


Daily exercise can go a long way in promoting strong muscles and mobility.

Physical activities such as cycling, walking, swimming, and yoga not only improve your muscles but also your overall functionality.

However, rest if you have an injury, severe knee pain, or a flare-up of symptoms.

Hot And Cold Therapy

Heat therapy helps ease the pain, while cold therapy reduces inflammation. Alternate between the two, but start with cold therapy for the first two days. Warm baths and showers can help ease stiff joints.


Research shows that several herbal remedies and ointments can be as effective as some over-the-counter creams. Consult your doctor or physician before using herbal ointments.

How To Protect Your Knee And Stop It From Popping

Here are some effective tips on how to protect your knee and stop the popping sounds.


Do not stretch your muscles and joints vigorously. Carefully stretch them, starting with your front and back thighs, followed by the back of your thighs.

Sleep positioning

Sleep in the right position. If you lie on your sides, put a pillow between your knees. This will improve the joints and ease the pain.

Stop overloading your joints

Avoid practicing the same physical activity repeatedly, switch things up, and alternate them. Walk, climb stairs, ride a bike or go jogging. Doing the same movements can cause strain and wear and tear on your knee joints.

Warmup before training

This helps reduce overload and prevent injury since muscle and joint injuries can spring from hard workouts.

Avoid prolonged sitting in the same position

Both long sitting and standing are bad for your knees and joints. Take a break at intervals and go for a walk or stroll. You could also do some simple stretches.

Wear appropriate shoes

There are specific outfits recommended for various weather and outings. To avoid accidents, slipping, tripping, or falling, always wear appropriate shoes for the season or events.

Perform Simple Exercise Routines

Relaxing, stretching, and strengthening your muscles can help reduce and/or prevent your knee from the pain, cracking, popping, and snapping. Perform these warmups during your daily routine or before your exercises.

Although occasional knee popping is normal, this does not mean it is without risks. There are several medical conditions associated with it, such as osteoarthritis, “wear and tear arthritis”. Ignoring symptoms without treatment can cause debilitation and may even affect overall health and functionality.

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