The lunge is more often than not a butchered movement. It is great at developing strength, power, agility, and athleticism. It is a movement that should be included in most strength training for its versatility. Often times, form is butchered and can either can pain in the individual performing the movement OR place increased stress on the knees, hips, and low back.
Common problems that can arise with lunging are:
Lumbar Spine Extension
Increased Anterior Tibial Translation
Here 3 Cues to Help Clean Up those Poor Movements:
1. Knee Valgus
Knee valgus is a common movement in squatting, lunging, etc. More often than not, it is NOT due to a weak gluteus medius. Usually, the person performing the movement needs to be cued not to allow that happen. This is where Reactive Neuromuscular Training or “RNT” comes into play. Try placing a band around the person’s knee where it is pulling them into that valgus position. This will consciously remind the person to avoid this position.
-Place enough tension where it is a challenging movement.
-Don’t place so much tension where the person can’t perform the movement.
-Don’t let knee go into valgus collapse during the lunging movement.
This technique is something that should not have to be used long-term. It is a teaching tool. Re-assess periodically and once someone is capable of performing the movement without a valgus collapse, using a RNT band can stop.
2. Lumbar Spine Extension
Lumbar spine extension can occur for various reasons from a weak gluteus maximus, weak anterior core musculature, etc. Sometimes the person may just need to be cued out of that position. If someone is truly weak and can’t perform the movement, regress to a supported version of a lunge ie. using a TRX, etc.
For a cue that can help with lumbar spine extension, all you need is two hands. I first learned of this cue from Tony Gentilcore.
-One hand should be where your rib cage comes up to meet in the middle.
-The other hand should be in contact with the top hand just below it.
-When the lunge is performed, if the hands come apart, that will tell the client that they are extending through their lumbar spine.
3. Increased Anterior Tibial Translation
Whether it be forward or reverse lunges, anterior tibial translation is commonly seen. It is not bad if the tibia translates anteriorly or the knee comes over the toes. More often than not, this movement of the tibia can cause anterior knee pain during the lunge due to the increased stress on the joint and soft tissue structures.
For someone who has a tendency to allow their tibia to move anteriorly, have them perform it against a bench.
-Start off with knee .5-1.0 inches away from bench.
-Perform a reverse lunge
For a forward lunge, try placing a hurdle or bench in front of the tibia.
-Start off by performing a split lunge.
-Then try progressing to a forward lunge with this type of cue.
If you or your client extends through their lumbar spine, allows their knees to translate anteriorly, or has knee valgus during lunges, give these cues a try!
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