Often people are afraid to do lunges or squats.  They think those moves hurt their knees—either their experience is that it hurts the knees when they do them or they have been told those moves are bad for knees.  The only problem with that is that in order to move throughout our day we need to be able to do a lunge and a squat.  It’s not the lunge that is the problem.  It is the lunge form.  

Lunges enable us to get up and down off the floor.  Squats get us on the toilet.  A cross between a lunge and a squat enables us to get into the car.  These are movements our body is doing whether we fear them or not.  How do we resolve the question of whether or not we should be doing lunges? The answer: Learn how to do a lunge properly without hurting the knee.

Proper Lunge Form Tips

The video below will demonstrate and talk you though how to do a lunge safely, but before you start, here are some key factors to consider:

What do you feel?

1)      Where do you feel the lunge?  When you are lunging do you feel pressure in the knees or do you feel work in the quad muscles in the front of the thigh (this might include a little around the top of the knee, but should still be muscle)?  A good quality lunge should feel like a LOT of work in the muscles of the front of the leg.  Not feeling it there?  You probably aren’t in proper form.  Look and listen for what you feel in the body.

Small moves are good!

2)      Start small.  If in order to feel the work in the muscle and not the knee, you only have a small range of motion, that is okay.  Start there.  It is better than wanting to make the move big, but continuing with faulty form.


3)      Take balance out of the equation.  A lunge challenges our balance.  If you are relearning or just learning how to do a lunge, put your hand on a wall.  Use that to help stabilize so you can focus on form.  Once you feel safe doing the move, let balance become a part of the challenge.

What your toes can show you:

4)      Think toes! Your back toes must be pointed forward (not turned out).  You front toes should be able to stay lifted off the floor the entire time.  NOTE: lifting the front toes will make balance incredibly more challenging so make sure you try this near a wall.  If you can’t lift your front toes off the floor when you go down into the lunge, chances are your weight is forward and you are putting a lot of pressure on the front knee.  Try to get more equal weight between both legs.

Which leg am I working?

5)      On a lunge you are working the quads in both legs, but most people mistakenly emphasis the front leg.  Make a lunge about your back leg.  Feel the work there and you will keep your front leg in a safer position.  Feel nothing in the back leg and all the pressure is on the front one. 

Flexibility May Be A Factor

If you do not feel ready for this move yet, start with a basic quad stretch.  To do a proper lunge the muscle requires both strength and flexibility.  It may be flexibility getting in your way.    We have a video on that too!

Keep Reading

To Squat or Not to Squat?\

What is that lump behind my knee?

Making Pilates a part of life.

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