In between sessions the other day, someone stopped me to ask an interesting question. She asked, “What do you think about lunges for people over 30 years old?”
A little perplexed, I responded, “I think they’re great!”
She preceded to tell me that a friend of hers had been told by a chiropractor that no one over the age of 25-30 should ever do a lunge.
(I had the sudden urge to judo chop something.)
Really? Never do a lunge, huh? Well tell me, Mr. Smarty Pants, how do you get up off the ground? Because if you watch anyone get up off of the ground, they lunge. They put one knee on the floor and one foot out in front of them and push themselves up.
My guess is this guy has seen some people who have injured themselves from doing a lunge and has drawn the fantastic conclusion that lunges are bad-don’t do them.
This is a classic case of going to the extreme, and it’s all too common in the fitness industry. You hear all the time that people shouldn’t deadlift or squat. If you’re not supposed to do either of these movements, then how is someone supposed to pick up a bag of groceries from the floor, or pick up their child? The problem with these movements isn’t the movements themselves, but the fact that people have no clue how to perform them properly. Yes, if you lunge/squat/deadlift improperly, there is a good chance that you’re going to get injured. Just like if you fly a plane/drive a car/eat with a fork improperly.
I remember back in high school, a friend of mine thought he would see what happened if he covered his hand in hairspray and lit it on fire. Aside from amuse me and make me want to try it (which of course, I did), it really hurt his hand. Following the same logic that people use with exercise, I could conclude that hairspray is dangerous and shouldn’t be trusted. Or maybe, it’s the hand that is dangerous. Just to be safe I’ll not use either one.
Are you seeing how ridiculous this logic is?
The fact is that when I have someone come to me with knee pain, they usually tell me that they can’t lunge or squat. I say “OK”, but what I really mean is “we’ll see.” This isn’t because I’m a jerk or I don’t think that the person legitimately experiences pain during these exercises, it’s because when I have them show me how they’ve been doing them, they use atrocious form. As I begin to teach them how to move properly through lunges/squats/deadlifts they can do these movements without pain, and usually experience less knee pain during their daily lives.
You know the old joke about a guy that walks into a doctor’s office and says, “Doc it hurts when I move my arm like this,” and the doctor tells him, “Then don’t do it?” Unfortunately, that’s the mentality a lot of people have. They fail to understand that maybe the reason someone is experiencing pain or has hurt themselves is because they have poor movement patterns.
The easy answer is “don’t do it anymore”, but if people never learn to move properly they’re asking for trouble, and it will only get worse as they age.
Of course, they’re are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part people need to learn to lunge, squat and deadlift correctly because they are going to be using these movements in their daily lives anyway. For someone to say that no one should do any of these movements is absolutely ridiculous, and not founded on any kind of logic.
As a follow up, I’ll post some video content tomorrow on good and bad lunge form. In the mean time, if any one tells you not to lunge, simply push them down on the floor and tell them they have to get up without lunging.