It has been said that compensations work until they don’t. This is very much the case with the knees, as they are generally over-used due to under-utilization of the hip.
What’s the big deal, you ask?
Well, the knee is a simple “floating” hinge that is supposed to stay relatively “quiet” during the squat so that it can easily roll and glide as the “ball and socket” hip drops below parallel. If we under-utilize the hip, the knee no longer does any easy roll and glide but, instead, SHEARS through range of motion.
Shear sounds kinda bad.
Yes, that is the beginning of the end for the knee as this shearing will tear cartilage/meniscus and overly strain the tendon attachments and ligaments that govern the knee. Long story short, shearing at the knees will inflame the hell out of them.
Solution – There are many potential areas of compensation, but the best place to start is at the hip. Ensuring that you have good core to extremity movement pattern at the hip will significantly reduce stress at the knee. Some will need to start with pattern; others with mobility. Regardless, start somewhere to ensure that you aren’t a part of the knee replacement group come your 5th-7th decade.
Good Luck and Keep Moving