Why the box squat might be your solution to knee pain

In this article, we’ll explain why the box squat can be a solution to your knee problems. We all know that a barbell back squat loaded with relatively heavy weights is the most effective lower body mass builder, as well as one of the exercises which engage almost your entire body. However, there’s a risk to doing them and if you’re not executing the movement right, you can put your knees at great risk of injury, not to mention great pain.


If you hear someone complaining about how doing squats makes their knees hurt, you could help them by first asking them to show you how they do the movement. In almost every case, you will see a terrible form. Most of these people blame the squat for their pain, instead of looking objectively at their form and trying to correct their mistakes.

Learning how to squat correctly is not exactly rocket science, however, sometimes it might take some time to get used to the movement. If we also take into account that every person has unique body measurements and the style of execution may differ, things might get complicated.

You should focus on your form

We need to make one thing clear about squat form from the start. There will always be some forward movement of the knees when squatting. The notion that the knees shouldn’t go past the toes because it’s dangerous is a myth and should be dispelled right away. Having said that, however, allowing the knees to move forward so much that the heels come off the ground can pose a serious risk. That’s exactly when you start putting the need under more stress.

You can see this happen quite often in many gyms. This is where the box squat comes in handy. The box squat is beneficial in that it helps you groove a properly executed movement pattern and keep the shins as vertical as possible so that the heels stay on the ground. It also takes the stress off the knees and places a greater load on the hips. This is very important because the hips are a larger and stronger joint than the knees. They are practically designed to handle bigger loads.

If you experience pain in your knees while squatting and provided you’re not suffering from any pre-existing injury, it’s because you’re lifting the weight with your knees doing more of the work than your hips. If you want to keep your joints healthy it is very important that you learn how to use your hips more when squatting. The box squat can help you do that.

The box squat will also keep you honest about your squat depth. You might have heard someone saying that squatting below 90 degrees is dangerous and that it places greater stress on your knees. This is another myth. On the contrary, studies have shown that squatting through a full range of motion is a lot healthier for the knees and ultimately makes them stronger.

How to do the box squat:

  1. Get a box that is 14 or 15 inches high. The height can be adjusted depending on the lifter’s body type. As a general rule, the thighs should be just below knee level when you are in the bottom position of the squat.
  2. Do the squat without a barbell first. Once you nail the movement pattern, put the box in a squat rack, unrack the bar, and stand in front of the box with your feet positioned a bit wider than hip-width apart.
  3. The toes should be pointing outwards at 15-30 degrees.
  4. Start the squat by moving your hips. Sit back on the box while at the same time pushing the knees out and imagining that you spread the floor with your feet. There’s no need to push the knees out to a point where all of the weight would shift to the outer part of your feet. You only need your kneecaps to be in line with your middle toes.
  5. Touch the box with your butt gently, don’t just fall on it.
  6. Reverse the movement back to the starting position, whilst squeezing the glutes at the top.

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