Why Do Knees Hurt After I Deadlift? 13 Reasons They Might
Do you ever find yourself doing your deadlift workouts in the gym and then feeling a sensation of tightness or even pain in or around your knees? Chances are, what you’re feeling can be attributed to one of many factors. This experience can be uncomfortable and sometimes discouraging if it causes us to cut our workout session short.
But why exactly do we experience knee pain after doing deadlifts? Do you get it after doing other exercises?
In this blog post, we’ll go over all the answers to these questions so you can better understand why it happens – and how to prevent or manage it – when performing one of the best strength training exercises out there.
Why Do Knees Hurt After I Deadlift?
There are a few different reasons why your knees may hurt after doing deadlifts. For starters, the eccentric phase of a deadlift (the lowering of the barbell from its starting position) requires a smooth and controlled movement in order to be completed correctly. If you have reduced hip mobility, this can lead to you feeling the exercise more in your knees or if you are “locking” them at the wrong time during the movement. This can be painful and may cause you to experience tightness or discomfort afterwards. Another thing to consider is how much weight you are lifting when performing deadlifts. It’s important that you use a weight that is appropriate for your current strength level, as using too heavy of a weight can cause your form to suffer, which may lead to knee issues. Additionally, it is important that you are using proper form when performing deadlifts. This means making sure your stance isn’t too wide or narrow and that you aren’t leaning too far forward with the barbell. Going against your range of motion (ROM) or having your knees pointing in can also cause discomfort in the knees. Lastly, it’s important to consider any previous injuries or bad knees you may have, as these could be impacting why your knees hurt after deadlifting.
Let us look in more detail at the reasons above and what you can do to reduce knee issues when doing deadlifts…
1. Eccentric part
If you are finding it difficult to control the bar during the eccentric phase, then this could be why your knees hurt after deadlifting. This is because the eccentric phase requires a smooth and controlled movement in order to be completed correctly. Your posture and the stress placed on your hips, lower back and knees can all be affected if you allow the bar to drop too quickly. This can result in an over-stretching of the muscles or joints around the knee, leading to pain or tightness.
Try using lighter weights or focusing on a slower tempo throughout the entire range of motion (ROM). Additionally, make sure you are pushing your hips back and maintaining a neutral spine position while completing this portion of the exercise.
2. Initiating movement – knee drive or hip drive?
How you initiate the movement can have a bearing on why your knees hurt after deadlifting. If you are trying to use your knees as the main driving force instead of pushing through with your hips, this can put a lot of strain on the knee joint and cause pain or discomfort. It is important that you learn how to initiate the movement by engaging your core, glutes and hamstrings before continuing with the deadlift. Initiating with only one or the other will result in said muscle group taking on more of the responsibility and weight of the lift.
Perfectly timing all the components of a deadlift is essential for success and will help prevent knee pain caused by any missteps. Focus on pushing through with your hips and knees as you stand up and drive the barbell off of the ground. This will help to keep the load over your midfoot, reduce stress on your knees and ensure proper form.
3. Reduced hip mobility
If your hip mobility is limited, this can also cause more of the weight to be shifted onto your knees while doing deadlifts. This can be very uncomfortable and lead to knee pain after performing the exercise. If you experience a limited range of motion in your hips, it is likely that this limitation could be the result of tight quadriceps and hamstrings. This can often lead to uncomfortable pain around the knee joint.
To improve your hip mobility, you can incorporate various stretching exercises into your routine. Stretching out the muscles around the hip area will help to increase flexibility and range of motion, allowing you to perform the deadlift with better form and less stress on the knees.
4. Going against your ROM
As mentioned many times on this blog, everyone has varying ranges of motion (ROM) which can make certain exercises feel uncomfortable or cause pain to a certain part of the body. Deadlifts are no exception, as going against your ROM can put a lot of strain on the knee joint. For example, if your feet naturally point inwards slightly, then trying to keep them straight while doing deadlifts can put a lot of tension on the knees.
The best solution for this would be to adjust your stance so that it is comfortable and natural. This will ensure that you are not putting any extra stress or strain on your knee joint when completing the exercise. Additionally, it can be a good idea to stretch out the muscles around your knees, hip and lower back before doing deadlifts in order to loosen them up and reduce any pain or tightness.
Always ensure that you are performing the exercise in line with your own unique range of motion. Using proper form and engaging the hips, glutes and hamstrings before initiating the movement will help to reduce any potential knee pain after deadlifting.
5. Locking knees
It is important to note that locking your knees during the deadlift can cause a lot of strain and tension on the joint, leading to pain or discomfort afterwards. Make sure you are not “locking” your knees when standing up as this can put extra stress on them. Hyperextending the knee joint can cause a lot of strain and increase the risk of injury. Instead, focus on keeping your knees slightly bent as you stand up with the barbell. This will help to keep the weight balanced over your midfoot and take some of the strain off the knees.
The same applies during the eccentric phase of the lift. Make sure you are controlling the lowering of the barbell in a slow and controlled manner. This will ensure that you are not placing too much strain on your knees as you “unlock” them at the bottom of the movement.
The only part where you will be effectively locking your knees will be at the top of the lift when engaging your glutes and finishing the movement. Here, you will be “locking” your knees slightly in order to ensure that you have successfully completed the exercise.
Related: Why Do Front Squats Hurt My Shoulders?
6. Too much bend
On the flip side of locking out your knees, there’s also the issue of having too much bend in your knees. This can also cause pain and discomfort afterwards, as it is putting extra stress on the joint. Make sure you are maintaining a slight bend in your knee throughout the entire exercise to ensure that you are not overworking the joint. Bending your knees too much is also a sign that you are starting the movement too low, which can lead to other issues such as lower back pain.
Start the lift with your shoulders slightly above your hips and keep a slight bend in your knees throughout the entire exercise. This will help to reduce any potential knee pain or discomfort afterwards.
To ensure you are performing the exercise correctly, make sure that your shins are perpendicular to the ground when starting the lift. This will ensure that you are engaging your hips and glutes in the movement, taking some of the strain off the knees. Keep a slight bend in your knees as you stand up with the barbell and focus on engaging the right muscles to complete the lift.
7. Heavy weight
This is probably the single most common cause of knee pain after deadlifts. If you are lifting too much weight, to begin with, your body will struggle to stay balanced and maintain proper technique throughout the exercise. This can lead to extra stress being placed on the joint or other muscles compensating for the lack of balance.
Deadlifts are a compound exercise, meaning that you should be using a weight that allows you to engage multiple muscle groups and complete the exercise correctly. If the weight is too heavy, then it will be difficult to maintain proper form and balance during the lift, which can lead to serious injury and a lengthy spell out of the gym. There are a million of those videos online which show “ego lifting” where people’s bodies shut down after trying to lift too much weight, which is super dangerous! Make sure you lift within your capabilities.
Ideally, you should only use weights that are light enough to allow you to maintain proper form throughout the entire movement. If you are struggling with heavier weights, work your way up gradually and master the exercise first before adding more weight.
One of the most common causes of knee pain after deadlifts is poor form. As mentioned before, it is all too easy to “lock out” your knees when performing a deadlift, especially when lifting heavier weights. Make sure you keep your knees slightly bent throughout the entire exercise in order to reduce any potential joint strain.
Additionally, make sure you are keeping your back flat and in a neutral position to avoid any potential lower back pain. This means that you should be engaging your core throughout the entire exercise and keeping a tight grip on the barbell. Also, keep in mind that there is no need to rush through each rep. Take as much time as you need to perfect each rep and make sure your form is correct before continuing.
9. Leaning forward
Another issue that can lead to knee pain is leaning too far forward at the start of the movement. This can cause you to be top-heavy and not able to lift in the correct direction, leading to extra stress being placed on the knees.
To avoid this, make sure you are keeping a flat back throughout the entire exercise and starting with your shoulders slightly above your hips. You also want to make sure you feel at the centre of the movement when performing a deadlift because you want to make sure the bar only moves straight up and down. If the bar path isn’t straight and is instead zig-zagged, this can also be hard on the knees and can cause injury to your spine and any number of muscle groups.
It is important to remember that everyone’s body is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. If you find yourself experiencing knee pain after deadlifting, the best thing to do is consult a professional trainer or physical therapist who can help you diagnose and address the issue.
10. Your stance
Depending on how wide you have your feet, this can either make the exercise easier or harder for your knees. If your feet are too close together, then you will be placing more strain on the knees as they try to keep the weight balanced during the lift. The best way to find a comfortable and safe stance for your deadlifts is to stand with your feet about hip-width apart. This will provide the best balance and will help reduce any potential knee strain caused by an incorrect stance.
Your foot placement is also another factor when it comes to deadlifts, as it can make a big difference in the way you feel during and after the exercise. Make sure you are not pointing your feet outwards or keeping them too close together, as this can put undue pressure on your knees. Instead, keep your feet firmly planted on the ground with your toes facing forward at a comfortable distance apart.
Remember, this will differ from person to person depending on your range of motion. Whenever doing a deadlift make sure you have a solid and level base from your feet to your knees and to your hips. This will help ensure that your knees are supported and not under any extra strain.
Related: Why Is My Hack Squat So Weak?
11. Knees pointing inwards
If you are having trouble keeping your knees from pointing inwards during deadlifts, this can also cause knee pain. This is because the alignment of the thighs and shins is off, resulting in a strain on the knees as they try to keep the weight balanced.
The best way to fix this is by engaging your glutes and hamstrings during the lift. This will help keep your legs in line and allow you to focus on using your core to maintain balance and control. Additionally, make sure that you are not pushing your hips up too quickly as this can cause your knees to collapse inward.
Once again, if you have any issues with your ROM due to any pre-existing medical conditions etc, then adjust accordingly, but remember to take the weight you are attempting to lift into account when doing so.
One thing worth mentioning is your footwear, as a good pair of weightlifting shoes can make a huge difference. Shoes that are specifically designed for weightlifting will provide extra support to the ankles, knees and hips, helping keep your body in proper alignment throughout the exercise. Too many people wear the latest sneakers without thinking about how it affects their form and performance.
12. Lacking control or jerking movement
If you fail to control the lift during the concentric or eccentric phase for any reason due to fatigue, lack of concentration etc then you can end up jerking the movement which can cause tears and strains to occur in the muscles around your knees. As we mentioned earlier…
It is important to make sure that the bar path remains straight throughout the entire exercise and that you are controlling it with your core instead of relying on momentum. This can be difficult at times, but taking a few extra seconds in between reps or using lighter weights can help you master this technique.
To avoid this, make sure you are focusing on each rep as an individual technique. This means ensuring that you have a good grip on the barbell and using your stabilising muscles such as your core and glutes to keep yourself in check. Additionally, make sure you are taking the time to warm up correctly before attempting any deadlifts as this is crucial for the prevention of injuries.
13. Previous injuries or bad knees
Finally, if you have any previous knee or lower body injuries then it is important to seek advice from a medical professional before attempting any movements. Even if the injury was not related to deadlifting, it is still worth getting checked out as certain conditions can be worsened by performing this exercise.
It is also important to note that many people naturally have weaker or more sensitive knees due to overpronation, genu valgum (knock-knee) or other medical conditions. If you are one of those people then it is highly recommended that you use lighter weights and perform fewer reps until you build up your strength and control in order to prevent any further injuries.
Finally, remember to always listen to your body and if you feel any pain or discomfort then stop immediately and take the time to assess why it is happening. Taking care of your body while performing exercises such as deadlifts will ensure that you can keep doing them safely and injury-free in the future.
How do I protect my knees when deadlifting?
One of the best ways to protect your knees is to maintain proper form and exercise technique. Make sure that you keep your back straight, and do not let your hips rise too quickly or lower too quickly when performing a deadlift. Additionally, use lighter weights at first until you get comfortable with the movement and can lift heavier without compromising form. It is also important to not lock your knees when standing up and returning to the starting position. When you return to the starting position, bend your knees slightly and keep them bent as you lift. Finally, make sure that you are wearing appropriate shoes with good arch support and cushioning to help protect your joints while deadlifting.
Should the bar touch your knees when deadlifting?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors, such as your body type, the weight you are lifting, and your goals. If you are a taller individual with long arms, you may be able to get away with the bar not touching your knees when deadlifting. On the other hand, shorter individuals may have difficulty keeping the bar close enough to their body if it does not touch their knees. Additionally, the weight you are lifting may also affect where the bar needs to be positioned. If your goal is strength training and you are lifting heavier weights, then having the bar touch your knees will ensure that your form stays consistent throughout each rep and helps you keep a flat back. For those aiming for powerlifting, the bar must touch your knees at the start of each rep in order to keep proper form and avoid injury. Therefore, when it comes to deadlifts, it really depends on what your goals are and how comfortable you feel with the position of the bar.
What’s a good starting weight for a deadlift?
This is an important question to ask if you are just beginning your strength training journey. The answer will depend on a few factors such as your current level of fitness and the type of deadlift (conventional, sumo, Romanian). Generally speaking, the starting weight should be light enough that you can perform each rep with good form while still feeling challenged. If you’re an absolute beginner, start with just the bar (45 lbs). As you become comfortable and stronger, you can gradually increase the weight. You should use a weight that is challenging but still allows for good form. Once you reach your max, add 5-10 pounds for your next set and continue to progress slowly from there. With time, consistency and proper form you will be able to steadily increase your deadlift weight.
(Note: Always consult a qualified fitness coach before beginning any new workout routine.)
Why does my knee hurt after heavy lifting?
It is common to experience knee pain after heavy lifting, especially if the lift was done improperly using incorrect form. The knee joint is a complex structure that can be easily strained or injured when it is overloaded with weight in an improper way. Improperly executed lifts, such as squats and lunges, may place too much strain on the ligaments and muscles surrounding the knee joint, leading to pain and discomfort. Additionally, if you are lifting weights that are too heavy for your current level of strength and flexibility, this can put additional strain on your joints. To minimize the risk of injury and pain in the future, it is important to use proper form when lifting heavy weights, start with lighter weights until your strength and flexibility improve, and gradually increase the weight to avoid overloading your joints. Additionally, it is important to take regular breaks in between sets of heavy lifting to allow your muscles and joints to recover. If your knee pain persists or worsens after heavy lifting, it is best to visit a doctor for a professional diagnosis and treatment plan.
Which deadlift is easier on knees?
It depends on the individual’s unique body mechanics and any physical limitations. However, generally speaking, a trap bar deadlift is less stressful on the knees than a regular deadlift since there is less total weight being lifted and no direct pressure on the knee joints. Additionally, using a hexagonal or speciality trap bar will allow for greater range of motion in the hips and lower back, which can reduce strain on the knees. In addition to this, maintaining proper form when performing any deadlift is essential for protecting the knees from injury. This includes keeping your chest up, engaging the core muscles, and ensuring that you are pushing through your heels rather than your toes when lifting. Taking time to warm up before lifting and using a weight that you can safely control are also important considerations when it comes to protecting the knees. Ultimately, listening to your body is key in finding out which deadlift works best for you without causing strain on your knees.
If you’re experiencing knee pain after doing deadlifts it is important to make sure that you are doing the exercise correctly and with proper form. Additionally, if you have any existing medical conditions that may be affected by this exercise then make sure to get advice from a professional before attempting it.
Taking care of yourself is an absolute necessity when it comes to avoiding injuries and ensuring that you can safely partake in your favourite activities for years to come. All the best and happy lifting!
Do deadlifts hurt your knees and have these tips helped? Let me know in the comment section below.