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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:28 pm 
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I've developed a cracking sound in my right knee when I extend it loaded, when unloaded the sound resembles 'rice crispies'.

It seems to have come on scince embarking on a 3 day variation of 531, which has me squatting 3 times a week. Two of those days are basically warm ups, 3 x 10 squats at around 30, 40 and 50%, the 3rd day being the 531.

I'm happy with the program, I'm seeing good gains, but the knee is starting to concern me now. There's no pain at the moment, but I can tell that it will probably become painful soon if I dont address it.

I've also noticed that i've started to protect the knee automatically, for example, when I stand up, i'm basically doing a single leg squat, my left leg is doing all the work and when going upstairs, i'm going one step at a time using my left leg.
It has also started to go 'crack' when deadlifting too.

Could it be simply too much volume? I'm wondering if theres anything I can do to modify the program to continue working my legs, I dont want to stop squatting, would it be wise to take the 2 days warmup squats out to reduce the volume on the knee, or is this just something I have to live with.

An interesting (an very embarrassing) thing happened the other day. I tried an overhead squat for the first time, and basically got stapled by 90lbs. SO...I tried a few sets with just a pvc pipe and discoverd I had no noise from the knee whilst standing up. Is this a clue? Muscle imbalance, tightness, bad form?

Any feedback most welcome...

Regards,

Rik

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 4:44 pm 
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Crepitus in the knee can have several different causes, both from within the joint and from structures around it. It may or may not be an ominous sign. I don't remember how old you are, but in general, the younger you are, the more seriously you should take it. Does the knee still move smoothly? Or does it "catch" at some point? Catching usually indicates a meniscal tear, which again might not be much trouble, but is often progressive, and can sometimes become pretty disabling if not repaired. Painless crepitus is less serious than if there is pain.

Can you manage to squat down and stand up while laying your hand on the knee? If so, to you feel any movement, snaps or pops? That might help localize something that is periarticular.

I don't know how difficult it would be to get a good evaluation there for something that I'm sure they would consider non-emergant, but it might be worthwhile to try to get the process started by seeing your GP, and finding out what referrals you can get to an orthopedist or a sports medicine specialist. The "gold standard" for imaging on the knee is MRI, but I know they don't pass those out casually over there. Of course, even MRI isn't perfect. I was treated by a knee specialist who did an MRI in the morning and arthroscopy the same afternoon, and found stuff with the scope that wasn't visible on the scan.

Sorry I can't give you more specific clues.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:57 pm 
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Jungledoc wrote:
Crepitus in the knee can have several different causes, both from within the joint and from structures around it. It may or may not be an ominous sign. I don't remember how old you are, but in general, the younger you are, the more seriously you should take it. Does the knee still move smoothly? Or does it "catch" at some point? Catching usually indicates a meniscal tear, which again might not be much trouble, but is often progressive, and can sometimes become pretty disabling if not repaired. Painless crepitus is less serious than if there is pain.

Can you manage to squat down and stand up while laying your hand on the knee? If so, to you feel any movement, snaps or pops? That might help localize something that is periarticular.

I don't know how difficult it would be to get a good evaluation there for something that I'm sure they would consider non-emergant, but it might be worthwhile to try to get the process started by seeing your GP, and finding out what referrals you can get to an orthopedist or a sports medicine specialist. The "gold standard" for imaging on the knee is MRI, but I know they don't pass those out casually over there. Of course, even MRI isn't perfect. I was treated by a knee specialist who did an MRI in the morning and arthroscopy the same afternoon, and found stuff with the scope that wasn't visible on the scan.

Sorry I can't give you more specific clues.


Thanks for the reply.

I'm 41.
I tried what you said, theres no catching or pops when I squat and theres no strange movement, still runs smooth.
Its like a series of clicks very close together. Much louder when I just use the leg on its own. The clicks are so close together that it sounds like a 'crack'.
Yes, they dont hand out MRI's much here, cuts and all recently will make that more unlikely...unless I ham it up a bit!

I'm curious about the overhead squat position though, this obviously forces an upright torso. Maybe theres something to be learned here.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:01 am 
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How do you squat? Wide stance, narrow stance, high or low bar?

I used to squat with a high bar and a narrowish stance, that was until i seriously upset my knee. I woke up one morning and couldn't walk done the stairs, could hardly bend it and putting weight through it was a no go. I thought i'd torn my meniscus and went to my GP, then on to see the specialist and then off for an MRI. Long story short, i hadn't torn it but there was some degradation in there, i was given the option of having an operation but i declined mainly because my knee was at that point feeling a lot better.

Anyway, my point. After that incident my knee pops and makes some crunching noises when i squat even with body weight using a narrow stance. But the moment i increase the width of my stance the 'noises' disappear, since then i always squat with a wide stance and have never had a problem with my knee since, and that was 2 years ago.

My advice would be experiment with your stance, if you squat wide already then disregard everything i've said. :grin:

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 10:08 am 
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I don't know why overhead squats would cause less noise. I like Proper's suggestion of experimenting with stance. If you can get a wider stance, it would put your shins more vertical, and put your knees through a bit less ROM.

At 41, this could be onset of some osteoarthritis. But you said no pain, right?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 10:23 am 
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Proper Knob wrote:
How do you squat? Wide stance, narrow stance, high or low bar?

I used to squat with a high bar and a narrowish stance, that was until i seriously upset my knee. I woke up one morning and couldn't walk done the stairs, could hardly bend it and putting weight through it was a no go. I thought i'd torn my meniscus and went to my GP, then on to see the specialist and then off for an MRI. Long story short, i hadn't torn it but there was some degradation in there, i was given the option of having an operation but i declined mainly because my knee was at that point feeling a lot better.

Anyway, my point. After that incident my knee pops and makes some crunching noises when i squat even with body weight using a narrow stance. But the moment i increase the width of my stance the 'noises' disappear, since then i always squat with a wide stance and have never had a problem with my knee since, and that was 2 years ago.

My advice would be experiment with your stance, if you squat wide already then disregard everything i've said. :grin:


Thanks for your reply. Yes, my stance has narrowed somewhat recently. Thats been deliberate though, i've been focusing my squat more towards the quads because they lag somewhat. I'd say its been around shoulder width or slightly narrower than that.

I've been playing today after reading your post. Instead of my 3 x 10 warm up, i've been doing overhead squats again, but in front of my conservatory doors so I can see my reflection. My stance with an overhead squat is naturally wider. I noticed that my ass doesnt want to drop centrally between my legs. Its slightly over to my right leg. I have to concentrate and push my ass over to the left for it to be central.

I'm beginning to think the extra volume on squats has renforced some bad technique and now i'm paying the price.
I'm not sure, but maybe my right IT band is tighter than the left or something? I'm hoping Kpj might jump in here :roll:

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 10:30 am 
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Jungledoc wrote:
I don't know why overhead squats would cause less noise. I like Proper's suggestion of experimenting with stance. If you can get a wider stance, it would put your shins more vertical, and put your knees through a bit less ROM.

At 41, this could be onset of some osteoarthritis. But you said no pain, right?


Yes thats right...no pain. I have started to notice a dull feeling, sometimes to the medial aspect of the kneecap and on one occation slightly below the kneecap. I'm taking this as my early warning.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:00 pm 
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I'm in my mid twenties but i have lousy joints, largely due to genetics. I also have runner's knee in my right leg associated with an old ankle sprain.

I experienced some very similar stuff when i first started lifting weights (which wasn't long ago, so take what i say with a grain of salt). I noticed worsened knee popping and cracking when attempting to change my squat form from my naturally wide stance to a narrower one in order to increase quad involvement. I figured the increased joint static wasn't good so i went back to the wide stance, which i'm more comfortable with anyway.

Something that may or may not help you: i can do lunges without making much noise. I've been doing the walking kind after my deadlifts and squats and i believe they're working my vastus medialis because i get DOMS in that region the next day (a very different and altogether much better feeling than joint pain), and i've had much less discomfort in the bad knee since i started doing them. I'm very pleased about this because strengthening the vastus medialis to fix or at least ameliorate my knee was one of my goals when i started working out but it wasn't until recently that i found a way to do it.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:24 pm 
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commodiusvicus wrote:
I'm in my mid twenties but i have lousy joints, largely due to genetics. I also have runner's knee in my right leg associated with an old ankle sprain.

I experienced some very similar stuff when i first started lifting weights (which wasn't long ago, so take what i say with a grain of salt). I noticed worsened knee popping and cracking when attempting to change my squat form from my naturally wide stance to a narrower one in order to increase quad involvement. I figured the increased joint static wasn't good so i went back to the wide stance, which i'm more comfortable with anyway.

Something that may or may not help you: i can do lunges without making much noise. I've been doing the walking kind after my deadlifts and squats and i believe they're working my vastus medialis because i get DOMS in that region the next day (a very different and altogether much better feeling than joint pain), and i've had much less discomfort in the bad knee since i started doing them. I'm very pleased about this because strengthening the vastus medialis to fix or at least ameliorate my knee was one of my goals when i started working out but it wasn't until recently that i found a way to do it.


Thanks for the suggestion. I had been thinking of doing some single leg work for a while, I was going to wait to see if someone chipped in with some similar advice. It could well be worth my while :thumbleft:

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:44 am 
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I don't think it's anything too serious, but I think it is an indication that you may have something going on with your movement.

Do you do any foam rolling? The noises you're talking about just sound to me like you're all locked up around the hips. Remember the hips control the knee, even how the knee cap "tracks", the knee itself has no control over itself - worth considering. I would bet that you have a lot of soft tissue restrictions, and you would feel a difference just by improving tissue quality a little (by foam rolling).

It would be interesting to rule out whether OH squats felt better due to your stance or due to holding a bar above your head. If it's just the stance, then the difference is the use of the hips. If it's the bar over your head, then the difference is torso position and ab activity - your abs go crazy with a bar over your head (which is also going to carry over to better stability from the hips). In this case, a front squat would probably give you the same effect, work your quads more, allow you to use more weight, whilst feeling more comfortable on your knees.

With going to one side - I'm a little confused. When you said your ass drops slightly to the right, was this the "mirror image" i.e. was it just the right side in the mirror therefore, actually you're going over to your left side?

With that comes the importance of training unilaterally - not just legs but, core and upper body, too. Side to side discrepancies are the second biggest predictor of future injury. Lots could be going on, on one side you can lack stability, and therefore have more tightness or shortness, and therefore rely far too much on the other side (normally the more stable side, which is normally the LEFT side if you are right footed and right handed). I've had this issue myself, it's quite frustrating.

The things you could check for differences between sides are - Side lying quad stretch, wall hip flexor stretch, side planks, single leg deadlifts. If you find that one side is drastically weaker/tighter than the other, then I would make it a priority to even it out.

I guess what i'm saying in short is,

-Improve tissue quality by foam rolling
-check find and work on side to side discrepancies (you need to get on one leg!)
-Find a squat variation that feels more comfortable, even if it means taking the focus off your quads for a while by widening your stance (to be honest, some single leg variations will destroy your quads - in a good way - they just have a bit of a learning curve).

KPj

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:24 am 
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KPj wrote:
I don't think it's anything too serious, but I think it is an indication that you may have something going on with your movement.

Do you do any foam rolling? The noises you're talking about just sound to me like you're all locked up around the hips. Remember the hips control the knee, even how the knee cap "tracks", the knee itself has no control over itself - worth considering. I would bet that you have a lot of soft tissue restrictions, and you would feel a difference just by improving tissue quality a little (by foam rolling).

It would be interesting to rule out whether OH squats felt better due to your stance or due to holding a bar above your head. If it's just the stance, then the difference is the use of the hips. If it's the bar over your head, then the difference is torso position and ab activity - your abs go crazy with a bar over your head (which is also going to carry over to better stability from the hips). In this case, a front squat would probably give you the same effect, work your quads more, allow you to use more weight, whilst feeling more comfortable on your knees.

With going to one side - I'm a little confused. When you said your ass drops slightly to the right, was this the "mirror image" i.e. was it just the right side in the mirror therefore, actually you're going over to your left side?

With that comes the importance of training unilaterally - not just legs but, core and upper body, too. Side to side discrepancies are the second biggest predictor of future injury. Lots could be going on, on one side you can lack stability, and therefore have more tightness or shortness, and therefore rely far too much on the other side (normally the more stable side, which is normally the LEFT side if you are right footed and right handed). I've had this issue myself, it's quite frustrating.

The things you could check for differences between sides are - Side lying quad stretch, wall hip flexor stretch, side planks, single leg deadlifts. If you find that one side is drastically weaker/tighter than the other, then I would make it a priority to even it out.

I guess what i'm saying in short is,

-Improve tissue quality by foam rolling
-check find and work on side to side discrepancies (you need to get on one leg!)
-Find a squat variation that feels more comfortable, even if it means taking the focus off your quads for a while by widening your stance (to be honest, some single leg variations will destroy your quads - in a good way - they just have a bit of a learning curve).

KPj


:cheers:

Foam rolling...no, not done that for while to be honest, i'll work on my T-Spine a few times a month, but thats it. I tried to stretch my IT bands the other day. My right side is much tighter than the left. The issue I have with stretching IT bands is i'm not entirely sure im doing it right. When I do it, I feel it right inside my hip joint only, not down the outer length of my leg. If this is what its supposed to feel like, then i'll go for it :wink:

I'll go for some front squats and take a comparison then. I'll report back tomorrow with that. I like front squats, it been a while scince I did them too. Something else I discovered was the wider my stance, the weaker I get! I always thought wider was stronger? Powerlifters anyone?

Single leg work was something I did last year, I hated it! lol I guess thats the best reason to do them again! I dropped them to really hammer my squat and get my numbers up. But i'm fine with that if its geared to sorting this out...I can always break world records later :green:

To clear up any confusion about my ass, it's over to MY right hand side, ignore the good looking fellow in the mirror. Yes, I'm right handed too.

Thanks for the advice...

Rik

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:28 am 
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Rik-Blades wrote:
To clear up any confusion about my ass


hehe


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:55 am 
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Rik-Blades wrote:
Foam rolling...no, not done that for while to be honest, i'll work on my T-Spine a few times a month, but thats it. I tried to stretch my IT bands the other day. My right side is much tighter than the left. The issue I have with stretching IT bands is i'm not entirely sure im doing it right. When I do it, I feel it right inside my hip joint only, not down the outer length of my leg. If this is what its supposed to feel like, then i'll go for it :wink:


I'd bet if you spent a good 10-20 minutes rolling your quads, hip flexors, and itband, you would feel an instant difference :thumbright:

On stretching the ITband - this a funny/interesting one, really. You can't really stretch the ITband itself - it's a tendon. It doesn't contract. It's really the connective tissue between the glutes and the knee. However, what you can stretch is the TFL, which is a hip flexor and along with glute max, merges into the ITB. The TFL is notorious for getting balled up and being overactive. Release the TFL, and you release the ITB. You'll feel the TFL in the hip and not the side of the leg so it sounds like you're stretching the right muscle. An over simplified way of thinking about it is the TFL "pulls" on the ITband (the best way i've heard it put is, it "tenses the lateral fascia" hence the name, tensor lata fascia"). If you feel it much tighter on one side, this could be part of the reason you are shifting.

Get it foam rolled, then stretch it out, then do some "side lying clams" to switch on glute medius.

Also, in my mind a close stance facilitates the quads and hip flexors which right now, in your case, could add to the overuse.

Rik-Blades wrote:
Something else I discovered was the wider my stance, the weaker I get! I always thought wider was stronger? Powerlifters anyone?


This makes me think that the stance is key. Which really means the muscles being emphasised are key i.e. focus on quads/hip flexors = bad, focus on glutes/hammies = better (for now). This also makes me think that you may have a knee dominant squat. That leads me to think a little bout of box squats could work wonders.

A wide stance does make you stronger compared to a close stance*. Obviously, there's a line and you can go too wide. Think of close grip bench vs a wider grip bench vs a very wide grip bench. Wider than close is stronger but too wide is weaker. If you aim to lift the most weight possible you need to find the optimal width which varies from person to person due to leverage's.

*A wider stance squat calls for more hips/glutes/hamstrings (and decreases ROM). If you don't have much strength here, then a wider stance squat can make you crumble. If you emphasise this weakness via, say, a Box Squat, improving glutes and hammies in the squat pattern, then when you switch back you should be stronger and more stable. You essentially emphasise your weakness. Also, if technique is an issue, Box Squats will probably sort this, too.

Rik-Blades wrote:
Single leg work was something I did last year, I hated it! lol I guess thats the best reason to do them again! I dropped them to really hammer my squat and get my numbers up. But i'm fine with that if its geared to sorting this out...I can always break world records later :green:


I'm a believer that single leg work will help get your numbers up. You should read this if you haven't already, it's explained much better than I can put it.

http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=4832886

KPj

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:15 pm 
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KPj wrote:
Rik-Blades wrote:
Foam rolling...no, not done that for while to be honest, i'll work on my T-Spine a few times a month, but thats it. I tried to stretch my IT bands the other day. My right side is much tighter than the left. The issue I have with stretching IT bands is i'm not entirely sure im doing it right. When I do it, I feel it right inside my hip joint only, not down the outer length of my leg. If this is what its supposed to feel like, then i'll go for it :wink:


I'd bet if you spent a good 10-20 minutes rolling your quads, hip flexors, and itband, you would feel an instant difference :thumbright:

On stretching the ITband - this a funny/interesting one, really. You can't really stretch the ITband itself - it's a tendon. It doesn't contract. It's really the connective tissue between the glutes and the knee. However, what you can stretch is the TFL, which is a hip flexor and along with glute max, merges into the ITB. The TFL is notorious for getting balled up and being overactive. Release the TFL, and you release the ITB. You'll feel the TFL in the hip and not the side of the leg so it sounds like you're stretching the right muscle. An over simplified way of thinking about it is the TFL "pulls" on the ITband (the best way i've heard it put is, it "tenses the lateral fascia" hence the name, tensor lata fascia"). If you feel it much tighter on one side, this could be part of the reason you are shifting.

Get it foam rolled, then stretch it out, then do some "side lying clams" to switch on glute medius.

Also, in my mind a close stance facilitates the quads and hip flexors which right now, in your case, could add to the overuse.

Rik-Blades wrote:
Something else I discovered was the wider my stance, the weaker I get! I always thought wider was stronger? Powerlifters anyone?


This makes me think that the stance is key. Which really means the muscles being emphasised are key i.e. focus on quads/hip flexors = bad, focus on glutes/hammies = better (for now). This also makes me think that you may have a knee dominant squat. That leads me to think a little bout of box squats could work wonders.

A wide stance does make you stronger compared to a close stance*. Obviously, there's a line and you can go too wide. Think of close grip bench vs a wider grip bench vs a very wide grip bench. Wider than close is stronger but too wide is weaker. If you aim to lift the most weight possible you need to find the optimal width which varies from person to person due to leverage's.

*A wider stance squat calls for more hips/glutes/hamstrings (and decreases ROM). If you don't have much strength here, then a wider stance squat can make you crumble. If you emphasise this weakness via, say, a Box Squat, improving glutes and hammies in the squat pattern, then when you switch back you should be stronger and more stable. You essentially emphasise your weakness. Also, if technique is an issue, Box Squats will probably sort this, too.

Rik-Blades wrote:
Single leg work was something I did last year, I hated it! lol I guess thats the best reason to do them again! I dropped them to really hammer my squat and get my numbers up. But i'm fine with that if its geared to sorting this out...I can always break world records later :green:


I'm a believer that single leg work will help get your numbers up. You should read this if you haven't already, it's explained much better than I can put it.

http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=4832886

KPj


Well, what can I say! Your input on this is so valuable to me that I really cant thank you enough.

Now you've broken it down for me, I can see where i've allowed this to happen by allowing a goal to get ahead of proper execution...(like thats never happend before...Ahem!)

Sounds like I can strecth that TFL out fine then already, cool! That foam roller wont know what hit it.

Love box squats. I hope I learn to love single leg work :frown:

I guess I can repay you by taking this and report back with some improvement sometime soon.

Regards,

Rik :salute:

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:01 pm 
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KPj wrote:

On stretching the ITband - this a funny/interesting one, really. You can't really stretch the ITband itself - it's a tendon. It doesn't contract. It's really the connective tissue between the glutes and the knee. However, what you can stretch is the TFL, which is a hip flexor and along with glute max, merges into the ITB. The TFL is notorious for getting balled up and being overactive. Release the TFL, and you release the ITB. You'll feel the TFL in the hip and not the side of the leg so it sounds like you're stretching the right muscle. An over simplified way of thinking about it is the TFL "pulls" on the ITband (the best way i've heard it put is, it "tenses the lateral fascia" hence the name, tensor lata fascia"). If you feel it much tighter on one side, this could be part of the reason you are shifting.

Get it foam rolled, then stretch it out, then do some "side lying clams" to switch on glute medius.


I don't mean to hijack your thread Rik, but I have to ask about something here. I was foam rolling my IT band the other day, and went up a little further to just below my hip bone and holy hell it was sore! Does that mean I hit my TFL for the first time ever? Should I persevere and roll that out good?


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