June 26, 2009, Newsletter Issue #383: Lunges

Tip of the Week

The Lunge incorporates just as many muscles of the lower body as the Squat does, making it equally important and beneficial as the Squat.  The Lunge focuses on the ability of the hamstring muscles to function properly by flexing the leg that is behind you at the knee during the motion.  It also works your glutes, quads, inner and outer thighs because of the necessity to balance, as well as the muscles that balance at the ankle and your lower leg.  The Lunge is a fantastic exercise if you're looking to burn lots of calories while at the same time get a great leg workout.  Let's see how we do it properly.
To Lunge, start with your body in Anatomical Neutral Posture ('Workout' section).  Step one foot forward about 60-70% of your maximum ability.  Once there, make sure that you have stepped so that your feet are not in line with each other, but instead you have your feet still hip-width apart.  Lift your back heel off the ground, making sure that your foot is facing forward.  Point your hips forward, making sure that they are not facing to the side in any way.  As you perform the Lunge, instead of trying to get the front knee to go forward, you are actually trying to bent the back knee to the floor while not moving your front knee forward at all (this is where most knee pain comes from, when the knee is moved excessively forward).  Once you are bent at the back knee as much as you can, if you were to look in a mirrror to the side of you, from your back knee to your head should look like you are standing up straight, not leaning forward at all.  With the exercise, do not allow your knee to touch the ground, descending slowly into the lunge.  Once down, slowly come back up until your legs are straight.  At that point, you can continue going down and back up, or you could step back and start again; it is up to you.
The Lunge is a very functional exercise.  In most sports people lunge without even knowing it.  Daily, when we step farther than normal, we are relying on the strength of our hamstring to hold us up.  Practicing Lunges will not only get us in great shape, but better prepare us for functional activity in sports and even normal movement occurences in our lives.

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