Why some pain is inevitable when improving your knees

knee pain exerciseKnee pain is a vicious cycle. When it hurts to exercise your knees, you don’t want to exercise. When you don’t exercise, certain muscles weaken. When certain muscles weaken, the muscle strength in your legs becomes imbalanced. When your leg muscles are imbalanced, it hurts to exercise your knees. And so it goes.

In order to prevent that imbalance, and break free from the cycle, you need to be prepared to exercise through some discomfort. You need to expect, and accept, some discomfort in the knees as you first tackle sissy squats. More important than anything, you need to keep going for long enough to make a difference.

(BEWARE: This article assumes the exercise is done correctly. If you continue performing sissy squats and your discomfort increases, or does not decrease, you are likely doing the exercise incorrectly.)


The Stages of Knee Pain

When your knees are suffering from patella maltracking, you will generally find this pain cycle when trying to perform sissy squats:

  1. Starting your sissy squats session, the knee hurts because your weaker muscles are not properly activated, causing the patella to rub and cause pain.
  2. As you continue your sissy squats session, the pain lessensonly when the weaker muscles are properly activated, and the patella tracks better.
  3. Following the session (later in the day, or the next day) the knee hurts, perhaps more than before.

I experienced this personally when trying to overcome knee problems: my vastusmedialis would not activate until a few sets into each sissy squats session, so the early part of the session resulted in knee pain. It is also that early part of the session that causes the pain felt later. This pain, felt in Stages 1 and 3, is the pain we avoid every day when we don’t use our legs properly. Stage 2, the relief from pain, is what you would feel everyday if you strengthened your muscles enough to prevent Stages 1 and 3 from occurring.

If you cannot fight through Stage 1 to reach Stage 2, you won’t strengthen your muscles enough to make a difference. Giving up too soon leaves you with all the pain and no gain. Similarly, let the pain in Stage 3 stop you from attempting your exercises again, the problem will persist and Stage 2 will only become harder to achieve in the future.

Relieving knees pain through sissy squats

Remember one thing, when it comes to dealing with this pain:

All the pain is caused in Stage 1, all the recovery is found in Stage 2.

In order to reach Stage 4, for healthy knees where Stages 1 and 3 no longer exist, you have to repeatedly hit Stage 2, and repeatedly endure Stages 1 and 3. Fight through the discomfort  and you will feel Stage 2 results within every sissy squat session provided you are performing the exercise correctly.

I know it’s easier said than done – telling you to suck up the discomfort is all very well, you’re the one who has to do it. But even if the pain is too strong to reach Stage 2 at first, you can manage your pain to get there in increments.


However you do it, even if it’s with small steps, you must keep progressing through the discomfort of the first few sets if you want to break free of the knee pain cycle. If you don’t break free from the cycle, you’re doomed to experience the same pain again and again.

Do something for yourself today. Your knees might curse you at first, but they’ll thank you later.


Note – again, because this is important: If a session of sissy squats does not cause some relief from your patella maltracking pain during the session, there is a good chance you are performing the exercise incorrectly. Start with our sissy squats for correcting patella maltracking article or contact us for coaching to make sure you’re getting it right.

About Knee Strength

Dedicated to improving knees for everyone, using exercise and dedication. No medication, no surgery, just strong working knees. Connect with .
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