Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lunges: A Love/Hate Relationship

Lunges are a great exercise because they combine a union of 3 major joints of the lower body: ankle, knee, and hip. From a functional movement perspective, performing the lunge routinely safely insures that this primal movement pattern--that is used in running, hiking, and sport--is not lost as we age. Secondly, the triple joint action I mentioned earlier, incorporates more muscles actively used so we can achieve a greater caloric expenditure in less time. Basically, a more bang for your buck in terms of fat loss exercises.

From my experience, I have come across each one of those excuses mentioned above. It is not uncommon to experience any one of these reasons for a novice performing a lunge--or even an athlete for that matter.

Hears just 2 of the reasons I hear:

A. ) They make my knees hurt

This is possibly the most common reason I have heard over the years, and still continue to hear. Poor knee tracking (seen mostly in females); poor tendon quality (patella & quadriceps); overly tight flexors; weakness, and a host of other issues may be the culprit for knee pain. People will not perform an exercise (or movement for that matter) if it elicits pain. So, eventually the triple extension movement is lost from one's movement inventory. Knee pain can be exacerbated by the failure to focus on driving up from the heel, poor hip mobility and flexibility, and generally weakness that is not progressed correctly.
B.) My lower back hurts when I go down

See above. The tightness in the flexors or in the hamstrings can cause the pelvis to shift or rotate causing pain in the lower back. Usually can be reduced with hip mobility drills. Lack of hip mobility will involve the lumbar region to take a brute of the workload. So the more hip mobility we have, the less involvement in the lower back. Gaining results from performing mobility drills is cumulative, so be patient.

Read the rest of this newsletter here.


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