In my first installment, Knee Pain with Lunges, I discussed how soft tissue quality and mobility can play a significant role in how we feel and move during the lunge. In today's post we will discuss how stability will play a role in the performance of the lunge.
First off, strength and stability are not the same thing.
Think of a sling shot.
photo credit: helmerslaw.com
The arm that pulls the elastic band back is considered strength. Stability is the arm that has to hold the slingshot steady and prevent it from moving as you pull with the other arm.
Another way to think of stability, as coined by Charlie Weingroff, "is control in the presence of change." We need both mobility AND stability in order to move well. If we have too much of one and not enough of the other, we will have problems at some point.
Back to the lunge. If all of the segments in the kinetic chain that we covered in the previous post meet the prerequisites for mobility, then we know we can move on to see if stability is a factor.
Per the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), mobility limitations must be remedied before stability limitations are addressed. For example, if someone lacks full hip extension mobility, then we should not be attempting to bring a stability fix to a mobility problem.
So, how do we know if someone has a stability concern with the lunge movement? Well, let's watch them move.
In the video above, the hip, knee ankle are oriented one on top of the other in the saggital plane. There is no:
If we were to see lateral trunk sway or the aforementioned technique flaws (femoral IR, knee valgus, foot pronation), we would want to remedy that.
Here is a video of some of those flaws:
Now, just because someone may have the movement of the knee medially or a lateral trunk sway DOES NOT mean they are weak!
Too many times we assume that since we see knee valgus or lateral trunk flexion side to side, the person is weak. Here are two quick fixes to help remedy this.
First, try something called Reactive Neuromuscular Training, or RNT. What this technique does is try to reinforce the error in the movement. In this case, we are going to place a band around the knee and try to reinforce the femoral internal rotation/knee valgus.
Now you may ask why we want to REINFORCE the error in the movement. Well, by reinforcing the error, it causes the person performing the movement to have to consciously think of keeping their lower leg in proper alignment.
Here is a video below of using RNT to improve lunge technique:
If knee valgus isn't an issue with lunging, but the trunk sway is, try this:
By activating the core and trunk musculature by pulling on the band, it allows the core to remain stable and provide a stable base for the lower body to move upon during the lunging movement.
If the person's lunging form still is suspect and could be improved, you can start by performing the lunge in the bottom position and performing the concentric portion vs the entire lunging movement.
Or try holding onto a TRX or other type of suspension trainer to help groove the lunging movement if body-weight is still too difficult and/or lacking in technique.
By adding in the RNT band around the knee or using the band for core activation, these various techniques mentioned above can help to clean up a lunge.
Some people aren't ready to start performing a body-weight variation and may need to use the TRX for assistance or start from the bottom position. Time and time again, especially post-operatively, I will have clients use the TRX to help transition them to eventually performing a full body-weight lunge. You can progress the TRX assisted lunge from 2-hand hold to 1-hand hold and then to body weight.
In the next installment, we will discuss how technique plays a role in the lunge and how poor technique can cause issues with performing the lunge.
Spread the word and stay tuned for Part III!
Here I will be writing and posting about topics ranging from physical therapy, injury prevention/reduction, and strength and conditioning.