Knees Clicking When Squatting Or Walking? Here’s How You May Improve It

You’re working out, and you feel something isn’t quite right all of a sudden. Yep, it’s that clicking knee again! A clicking knee is generally just annoying, but if it’s an ongoing problem it may cause discomfort, pain, or instability, sometimes leading people to abandon their exercise altogether. That’s the last thing we want for you! If any of this sounds familiar, read on to find out what can cause your knees to click or crack when squatting or walking, and how to stop knees from cracking. 

This article explores the possible reasons for clicking knees and exercises you can work into your routine that may help reduce the problem. For personalised advice, contact our team at Optimise Health today. 

All About The Knee


The knee is a complex structure that allows us to bend our legs. It contains ligaments, tendons, soft tissue, and many other components that help us to move and go about our daily lives. 

The knee joint is the largest in the body and connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The kneecap (patella) also plays a role in the knee joint. 

There are four main components that make up the knee joint: 

  • Bones: Femur, tibia, and patella
  • Cartilage: Soft tissue that covers the ends of the bones to prevent them from rubbing together
  • Ligaments: Tough, fibrous bands that connect bones to each other
  • Tendons: Connect muscles to bones 

Several muscles also play a role in the knee joint, including the quadriceps (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh) and calf muscles (lower leg). These muscles work together to provide stability and movement to the knee joint. 

Since the knee is so important, it’s normal if you feel concerned if you hear it clicking when you move, but it’s actually a fairly common problem that may mean nothing at all in many cases. 

However, sometimes knee clicking can indicate damage to the knee that may require attention from a skilled knee specialist. 

What Can Cause Clicking Knee?


In many cases, knee clicking may be a common occurrence that shouldn’t cause any worry. You can think of it as similar to popping your knuckles or back. This is because over time, small bubbles can become trapped in the knee joint and then they ‘burst’ when you bend or extend your knee in a certain way. This is called cavitation and isn’t a cause for concern unless it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling or severe pain. 

Other causes of clicking knee include: 

  • Meniscus tears: The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions the knee joint. This can cause the clicking sound if it’s torn or damaged.
  • Ligament injuries: If ligaments are injured or stretched, they can contribute to a clicking or cracking sensation in the knee.
  • Arthritis: This is a condition where the cartilage in the knee wears down over time and often leads to pain, stiffness, and the clicking sensation.
  • Cartilage damage: In addition to arthritis, the cartilage in the knee can become damaged due to other reasons which can cause the clicking or cracking sensation.
  •  Muscle imbalances: Imbalances in the muscles surrounding the knee joint can lead to misalignment over time and contribute to knee clicking.
  • Bursitis: Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the knee joints. They can become inflamed or irritated, causing knee clicking.
  • Patellar tracking disorder: If the kneecap (patella) doesn’t move properly, this is known as patellar tracking disorder and can be the cause of clicking or cracking knees.
  • Other knee injuries: Such as chondromalacia patella or patellofemoral syndrome (runner’s knee). 

If you hear or feel any crunching or grinding in the knee, or experience any swelling or pain, it’s important to seek medical attention as the condition may become worse if left untreated.


Ways To Improve Knees Clicking When Squatting Or Walking 

If your clicking knee bothers you, there are some exercises that may help to reduce those clicks and pops you feel.


  1. Foam Rolling 

A foam roller helps to apply pressure to muscles, tendons, and ligaments in order to relieve tightness, knots, and other forms of muscular tension. If you don’t have one, you can pick up a basic foam roller at discount department stores for around $10. 

  • Place the foam roller on the floor and position yourself with your front quadriceps over it.
  • Ensure you don’t go over the kneecap. If you need to reduce the intensity, use more pressure on your arms.
  • Roll back and forth along the entire length of the muscle, focusing on any tight spots you may find.
  • Let the foam roller sit on tight spots for several seconds to allow it to work deeper into the tissue.


  1. Deep Squat Stretch 
  • Position yourself in a squat and hold a weighted dumbbell, gym plate, or something similar out in front of you. If you don’t have any appropriate equipment, you can hold onto a wall in front of you. This helps to stabilise you to minimise the risk of falling.
  •  Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds, making sure not to cause yourself any pain. Focus on your core, glutes, and ankles to keep yourself balanced.
  • Over time, you may find that this exercise becomes easier. When it does, aim to perform the exercise without any assistance.


  1. Stretching Quads 
  • Ly on your stomach and wrap a rope or conditioning band around your foot. If you don’t have anything suitable, even a dog leash will do the trick!
  •  Pull the rope (or other equipment) towards your shoulder, moving your foot towards your glute area.
  • Hold this position for about 45 seconds while you feel your quadricep stretch. Repeat with the other leg.


  1. Knee Flexion Gapping Stretch 
  • Take one foot and place your ankle behind the opposite knee. Sit in this position for several seconds.
  • Rock sideways gently as you begin to feel your muscles loosen up from the ankle. This will release tension.
  • Try to hold this position for several minutes before repeating on the other side. 

Whichever stretch you choose, start gradually and to not force your knee into any position that causes pain or discomfort. Always go at your own pace.


Clicking Knee? Physiotherapy May Help 

If your knee clicking has been bothering you, we hope this article has helped you to understand why it may be happening and given you some ideas on how to reduce it. Stretches are a good way to improve knee stability and to reduce the clicking sensation, but it’s important to find the right exercise for you. Physiotherapy may be a great help in improving your knee clicking, allowing you to get back to your way of working out with less cracking and less concern. 

At Optimise Health, we offer physiotherapy in Toowoomba & Warwick with the aim of helping you feel your best and get out there with confidence. If you’re interested in learning more about our approach to physiotherapy and what we can provide, book an appointment in Toowoomba or Warwick today!



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