Improving Strength: Lunges
Lunges are a great way to improve
strength of the lower extremity. If performed correctly, they an help
improve strength in the quadriceps
, hips, and core.
are many different variations, and the possibilities are
limited only by your imagination. Below are just a few types
that I use everyday with my
One note about exercises...they may
increase pain in some people. Make sure that any exercise you perform
is pain free. Alter the exercise as needed to keep them pain free, and
only progress to the next when you can correctly peform the exercise
Forward or Anterior
forward or anterior direction is the simplest to perform. I have my
perform two different variations of this exercise, depending on the
strengthening goal. Patients who are recently out of surgery or who are
suffereing from knee pain will start with the mini or half.
Others will perform the inline.
The mini lunge involves stepping out onto the
leg whle keeping your opposite leg straight.
should try to get your knee right out over your toes, keeping your body
upright as you step.
Make sure that you push off
with your step leg
to return to the starting position, rather than pulling yourself back
with your stance leg.
I call this a mini or half
because you do not achieve a great amount of knee flexion in the step
The inline version focuses more on balance
and gaining more knee flexion. It is extremely important that you
maintain good body alignment with this one for it to be
The inline version
involves steping out onto one foot, and then dropping the opposite knee
to the ground. Your knee should be directly over or slightly behind
Make sure that you keep your chest high
and your upper body in a straight line. This can be performed in
a slightly staggered stance, or with the feet directly inline with each
The closer in line your feet are, the more
your hips and core have to work to keep you balanced.
often take my patients through a series, where
they perform mini or half lunges in different directions. This
challenges different muscle groups, especially at the hips and in the
core. Lateral, (sideways), as well as lateral rotational are the
two most common directions I use.
Lateral involves stepping onto one leg
directly to the side, keeping the toes forward. Keep your body upright,
resisting the urge to lean forward.
should be right over your toes, and your opposite leg should remain
straight so you get your body weight over your step leg. Push off to
return to the starting position.
rotational is similiar to the lateral, but you
rotate your foot to point in the direction you are stepping.
your hips towards your stepping leg, and keep your body upright. Push
off to return to the starting position.
To make these more challenging, you can do lots
of different things. You can add weight by holding onto small dumbells.
This works very well with the inline version. You can also challenge
by stepping onto an
like a foam pad.
To work on control, try
off of a small box or step. This forces your body to work harder to
control and decelerate as you lunge.
are another variation that is more challenging both for
strengthening and balance.
Start off with performing
1 set of 6-10 repetitions of each one. Increase your sets and reps
until you can perform 3 sets of 10 in each direction. Then add
weights or use some of the other variations described above to continue
to increase the challenge.
are a great way to improve lower extremity strength and balance. Make
sure that you keep good body alignment during the exercise, and focus
on quality rather than quantity. Increase the challenge by using
unstable surfaces and weights.
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