Here’s How to Solve Knee Popping When Squatting or Working Out

Knees popping during squats- what is going on? You may be wondering that, and it may be a little strange or embarrassing (especially if pother people at the gym can hear your knees pop.) You may be wondering if this is normal or if you need to get it checked out. Read on to learn what is happening and how you can solve it.

Knee Popping- What is going on?

Unknown man holding his knee-popping

Do your knees pop, click, crack, or snap when you go down in a squat? They may sound more like Rice Krispie cereal than knees and you may be a little concerned about what is going on. Actually, this is a common occurrence, called crepitus, and it happens quite often.

Crepitus is the scientific term for that noise your joints sometimes make when they move. And, it doesn’t just happen in your knees. Any time you pop your knuckles, or your neck, or back, or move your joints in any way and it makes noise- that’s crepitus.

Crepitus most commonly occurs when air bubbles get trapped inside a joint, then when the joint moves the air bubbles pop and that is the sound you hear. Crepitus is normal and natural, and pretty common, especially in the knees. Many people who experience crepitus do so while they are doing a knee-heavy task, like walking up the stairs, or squatting.

So, is crepitus a problem?

Doctor pointing at the x-ray knees

Crepitus is a natural thing that the body does and you shouldn’t worry too much about it. However there are some cases in which crepitus is something to worry about.

The hard and fast rule when it comes to crepitus is to go get it checked out by a medical professional if the crepitus noise is accompanied with pain. If you feel pain, swelling, or bruising with the noise that your joints make you should worry and should stop what you are doing and go get medical assistance.

Sometimes crepitus can happen because of an old injury or surgery. If you have had knee problems in the past and crepitus is something that happens pretty frequently, there might be an underlying issue and you may want to go see a doctor just to make sure everything is okay.

On that same note, there is a controversy as to whether crepitus is an early sign of osteoarthritis. While there are many different opinions on the topic, arthritis is something to worry about, and if you believe that your crepitus is connected to arthritis it wouldn’t hurt getting it checked out.

Basically, crepitus is a normal and natural thing and not something to overly concern yourself about. However, if crepitus is happening very frequently, or if there is pain accompanied with the noise then the crepitus may be acting as a “check engine light,” for your body.

With the check engine  light on you may be able to still drive your car around, but you’ll want to take your car in and get it checked out before any real problems may occur. It’s the same with crepitus- that noise typically is not a cause for concern, but if you get it super frequently, or if you feel any pain, you should probably get it checked out.

How to solve knee popping while squatting

Man and woman squatting while lifting kettlebells

Squatting is a great form of exercise, helping you burn fat, strengthen your lower body, and boosts your core and athletic ability. Whether you do variations, try different bars, or just do plain squats- they are pretty beneficial to your exercise regimen.

That’s why, even if you get crepitus and don’t feel pain, it can still be disconcerting and even embarrassing when you hear the breakfast cereal noise your joints make, and you may want to solve it. If this is the case, here are some tips and tricks that you can do to lessen or eliminate crepitus.

  • Stretches and Exercise
  • Eating the right foods
  • Massages
  • Icing the joint
  • Taking a hot shower or bath

The first point, stretching and exercise is crucial to getting rid of crepitus. You need to strengthen your joints and the muscles around them and that will help protect them and make them less noisy. Exercise will also help reduce inflammation, decrease joint pain if any, and kick start the lymphatic system to get rid of waste or liquid that may have built up around the joints. Choose exercise that will increase the range of motion in your joints and lightly stretch the surrounding muscles.

The right foods involve foods that are high in healthy fats and omega 3s. You want to choose high anti-inflammatory foods like berries, nuts, avocados, fish, and green leafy vegetables to help get rid of inflammation around the joint and reduce crepitus.

Adding collagen supplements can also strengthen your knees and joints. It can help lubricate your joints and strengthen your bones, ligaments, and tendons. Other important things to do within the food category is to stop eating sugary food, drink plenty of water, and maintain a healthy weight.

The third point is massages. Massages, whether you go to a massage therapist or you use a massage gun, can be a great way to relax the muscles, reduce inflammation and soreness, and help you recover quickly from a solid squatting session. Besides just feeling good, a massage can be a great way to reduce crepitus.

Other ways to lessen or eliminate crepitus would be to ice the joint or knees or to take a hot bath or shower. Both are also helping to relax the muscles, and reduce soreness.

If you focus on strengthening the joint and surrounding muscles,  eating food high in healthy fat and anti inflammatory properties, drinking enough water, maintaining a healthy weight, and caring for your joints, your crepitus will lessen and even may eliminate altogether.

In conclusion

Man lightly holding his knees

Crepitus is not something you need to overly worry about, but your safety is very important.

There are things you can do to lessen the crepitus sound, but if you feel the need to get it checked out, or if you feel any pain accompanied with it, you should go see a medical professional and get more help.

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