I mentioned in yesterday’s post that anything, if done incorrectly, has the potential to be harmful, including exercise.  I also mentioned that I would break down the lunge and give you all a quick overview of how to, as well as how not to, lunge.

First of all, the lunge is important for several different reasons:

-The lunge is about as functional of a move as you can get.  The reason that people can’t get up off the floor is because they don’t have the strength to lift themselves up from a lunge position.  (We all get off the floor by using a lunge.)

-Single leg movements are incredibly important to decrease strength imbalances between your weak leg and your strong leg.

-The back leg of the lunge (if the lunge is done correctly) should experience a good deal of hip extension.  In practical terms this means the hips are going to gain a great deal of mobility, which we all need.

Here’s a video of what a bad lunge can look like:

Here are the ways in which this particular lunge is going wrong:

-On the upward portion of the movement, the front leg isn’t finishing the movement.  What this means is that the back foot is hitting the ground before the front leg has stood all the way up.  This is a big no-no.

-On lunges 2, 4 and 5 in the video, you can see that my front knee moves out towards my toes.  This is also bad news.  An ideal lunge should keep the knee directly over the ankle.  People tend to move forward to much through out the lunge, putting a great deal of stress on the knee joint.

-Another common mistake (not in the  video) is a forward lean of the torso.  When the torso leans forward, you lose hip extension in the back leg, reducing one of the greatest benefits of this exercise.

Here is a video of what a lunge should look like:

-You can see here that my torso is up nice and straight, without any forward lean.

-My front leg finishes the movement (stands up straight) before my back foot has a chance to hit the ground.

-My knees stay pretty close to directly over my ankles.

One of the best cues I use for the lunge is to think of moving like an elevator, not an escalator.  What I mean by this is that people usually perform a lunge by moving forward through the entire movement.  After they step out, they continue to move forward with their bodies, pushing their front knee out to, or past their toes.  They move like an escalator.  What should be happening is that once the initial step is taken out from the body, you should move down into the lunge, not forward.  Then push through your front heel and move upwards, like an elevator.

If you follow these few guidelines, you will most likely be able to do lunges without any problems.

Happy lunging!

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