The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Strengthen and Retrain Function With The Lunge

The previous post Leg Exercise That Helps Your Back introduced the lunge. The lunge can be a quick effective fitness and health enhancer when you understand that you use it for real life bending, not just as an exercise to do for a set number of "reps."

The idea is to use the lunge in a healthy way instead of bending over "wrong" for all the hundreds of times you bend around the house and workplace. Then you stop one of the major sources of back (and knee) pain and degeneration while you get free built-in exercise, calorie burning, and leg and hip stretch and strengthening. The post How Good Would You Look From 400 Squats a Day - Just Stop Unhealthy Bending shows just how many times every day you need to know this.

Reader Ivy from New Zealand sent in the photo above right showing a great way to bend for some of the many times you need to bend to reach and get things - the standing lunge:

  • Upright torso
  • Bending straight downward, not forward
  • Front shin pretty much vertical
  • Front knee over the foot
  • Front knee does not sway inward. This is key in retraining knee stability during real life bending, stairs, and other movement.
  • Back foot facing ahead, not turned out
  • Front heel down. Better for knee and gives built-in Achilles stretch
  • Feet nicely spaced
  • Hands free, not on front leg
  • The side-seam of the jeans from hip to waist-band is vertical, not tilting forward. It is somewhat hidden by Ivy's arm, I know. But the idea is important - do not tilt your hip forward to stick the backside out in back. Keeping the side seam vertical does several important things to strengthen and stretch, and keep neutral spine that I will cover in future posts on lunging.
  • Looks comfortable and doable.

When using the lunge, do not bog down in "rules" over placement. The idea is to move in simple, healthy positioning, not hold yourself rigidly.

The post The Cause of Disc and Back Pain shows more on why healthy bending is key to fitness as a lifestyle, and Free Exercise and Free Back and Knee Pain Prevention - Healthy Bending introduces the half-squat as one of several fit and healthy normal ways to bend for every day activities.

Going to a gym three times a week is not fitness as a lifestyle. Instead of "doing" exercise, lift, and bend, and move in healthy ways all the time for real fitness as a lifestyle. Give it a try and send in your success stories.

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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.