Doing lunges is one of the best functional exercises to tone the legs and butt. It targets and tones the muscles in the lower body. A basic lunge exercise does not require use of any equipment. When done correctly, it is an easy yet effective way to exercise the entire lower body.
Like most exercises, improper execution can result in injuries. For lunges, the body part that is most atrisk is the knee. Tibiofemoral joint injuries and Patellofemoral overuse injuries are just some of the many injuries that can afflict the knees. There are several ways to protect your knees while doing lunges.
Understand Knee Injuries
One of the best ways to protect the knees while doing lunges is to know the various types of knee injuries and their causes.
The Tibiofemoral joint consists of cartilage and several kinds of ligaments. A tear in the cartilage or one or more of the ligaments can cause severe pain. This may occur when you lose your balance while performing the exercise. The landing can twist the Tibiofemoral joint, resulting to torn cartilage or ligament.
The Patellofemoral joint assists in leg extension. It also provides protection to the knee joint. The knee cap or patella has a tendency to get dislocated. Doing excessive repetitive lunges coupled with other leg exercises may result in overuse of the Patellofemoral joint.
Do Warm-ups Before Performing Lunges
Warm-ups are necessary in conditioning the body before a strenuous exercise. Performing warm-up exercises, focused on the legs and knees, is one of the ways to minimize the risk of a knee injury during lunges. Muscle stiffness and rusty joints are some of the causes of injury. Dynamic stretching is a recommended warm-up exercise to remove muscle stiffness.
Perform Lunges While Observing the Proper Form/Posture
It is important to observe the correct form or posture when doing lunges. By doing so, full benefit of the exercise is achieved and injury is also prevented. When doing lunges, it is best not to put all the pressure or weight in the front foot. In this way, the quadriceps–muscles in front of the thighs–are not overstressed. Putting most of the stress in the quadriceps will also put stress on the Patellofemoral joint. This can cause overuse injury.
Excess stress on the knees can also be avoided by making sure that during the lunge, the front leg is bent at a 90 degree angle. The back knee should be positioned approximately one inch from the floor with the back toe pointing straight. By also concentrating the weight on the heel and never the toes, pressure is relieved off of the lunged knee.
Master the Basic Lunge Exercises
Another way of protecting the knees when doing lunges is by mastering the basics. Advance lunges, such as lunges with bicep curls and shoulder presses, require more skills. A beginner performing advance lunges without a solid foundation of the basic lunges is putting herself at risk of an injury.
Like all exercises, it is important to keep safety in mind. The benefits from the exercise can be best maximized if performed correctly.