Jumpers knee is most common in athletes who perform high volumes of jumping, running, and sprinting. The sensation of jumper’s knee is very similar to runner’s knee and sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. 

It’s perfectly fine to do squats with jumpers knee. What you’ll want to pay attention to is whether or not symptoms get better, worse, or stay the same after performing squats. 

In the remainder of this article, I will talk further about different squat variations and provide you with a basic rehab plan that should get you moving in the right direction to less pain and a higher vertical. 

Let’s jump in!

jumpers knee basketball

Are Squats Important For The Recovery Of Jumper’s Knee?

Squats, lunges, deadlifts, knee extensions, and many other types of leg exercises can be helpful and important in the recovery process for jumpers knee. 

Determining which movement, how often, how many sets and reps, and how much weight to use is usually where people get tripped up. 

I’ll discuss that in this next section.

How Much Should I squat?

My general recommendation is to start with 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions, two times per week, to start. 

Start with body weight and see how that feels before you start loading weight onto the bar (or using dumbbells or kettlebells.) 

If you’re able to perform the squat under these parameters and it does not increase your pain levels past its baseline or > 4 on a 0-10 scale, then you clear to move onto the next phase. 

The next phase would be increasing the weight which you are squatting. This is largely going to depend on your familiarity with lifting weights. If you routinely lift weights (if you’re an athlete you should be), then feel free to warm-up with bodyweight squats and then start using a dumbbell for goblet squats working up to a weight that you find moderately challenging. If using a barbell you can do the same thing. 

pistol squat woman

Twenty-four hours after your workout, check in with yourself and see how your knee is feeling. If it’s feeling good and you don’t have any major irritation of symptoms then you are clear to continue adding weight, working back up to the normal weight that you use. 

The two most important component of this strategy are, number one, monitor your symptoms 24 hours after you’ve done a leg workout. If you don’t pay attention to this it’s very easy to overshoot and irritate symptoms, worse. 

Number two, only change one variable at a time. What do I mean by that? Don’t change how much weight you’re using and how many sets and reps you’re doing, and how many different exercises you’re doing. If you change all those variables and then you have an elevated level of discomfort the next day, you’ll have no idea of what caused it.

If you’re interested in more details about what to look out for and how to know if pain is okay, you can check out this article.

Is There A Best Type Of Squat For Jumper’s Knee?

There is not one specific type of squat that is best for jumper’s knee. In fact, it’s recommended that you try many different types of squat variations to see which one feels best for you. 

The types of squats you might try are as follows:

  • Bodyweight squat
  • Box squat
  • Goblet squat
  • High bar back squat
  • Low bar back squat
  • Sissy squat
  • Front squat
  • Split squat (this is really a lunge but it’s got squat in the name)

Bodyweight squat

The bodyweight squat is just what it sounds like, squatting your bodyweight. Follow the instructions in this video if you’re unfamiliar with how to perform this movement properly. 

Box squat

The box squat is great because it limits the range of motion that you go through as you’re basically sitting down onto a chair. If it is still too painful squatting down to a lower box, bench, or chair, you can always place a book or some other object onto the sitting surface to elevate it. 

Sometimes raising the surface can be a simple fix to reduce pain in and get you moving again. 

Goblet squat

Depending on how strong you are, you’ll be able to do goblet squats up to a fairly heavy amount before needing to switch over to a barbell. Most people end up needing to switch between 35 and 55 lbs. 

Some of my powerlifting clients have gone as high as 95 lbs before needing to switch as it’s the biceps that end up getting tired before the legs if you’re holding that large of weight in front of you. 

High bar back squat

Once you’re completing high bar back squats fairly comfortably you can just use progressive overload principles and you should be off to the races. 

Low bar back squat

If you’re a powerlifter, or you just like adding a little more weight to the bar, low bar back squats can be a great squatting variation. Low bar is my personal favorite squat variation as i’m able to squat the most amount of weight this way, with the least amount of discomfort. 

Sissy squat

The sissy squat has several different way to do it. Most commonly this is done by standing on the toes and then going into a squat while staying on your toes. This can also be done with a machine or by placing a band around the back of your knees. Some people also call this a spanish squat (the banded variation.)

Front squat

Once you’re doing enough weight to where your arms are getting tired before your legs from the goblet squat, i’d transition to doing a front squat. It’s a little more technical than the goblet squat but you’ll be able to add a lot more weight without the arm fatigue. 

Split squat

This one is really more of a lunge, however the split squat is stationary and a great way to progress. Since jumping is usually a single leg activity anyways, this is a great way to load your lower body in a more sport-specific way. 

Key Takeaways

  • It’s perfectly reasonable to squat if you have jumpers knee
  • Make sure that when you are squatting you are not making symptoms significantly worse. 
  • Test out different squat variations to see which one works best for you
  • Start light and then progress to heavier weight over time.