Probably the best exercise for your lower body are squats and lunges, which can also be modified for the beginner to the advanced/athlete level of difficulty. However, it is critical, as with any exercise, that property technique, form, and posture be maintained through the movement. Bad form and bad posture can reactivate existing or old injuries and/or create new ones … and if we are injured we can’t train, and if we can’t train we are not working to achieve our goals. So, I have listed a number of important things to pay attention to when doing squats and lunges, whether with weight, resistance, or simply using your own body weight.
- Keep your head, neck, and spine in a straight line throughout the movement of lowering down and raising back up. One way to keep good form is to keep from looking down by focusing on a point high on the wall in front of you or if outside at the horizon or other natural feature that forces you to keep you head looking upward;
- Ensure that you do not lean the weight of your body over your knees by sitting back on your squat or lunge motion. If you can wiggle and see your toes throughout the movement you are keeping good form in respect to this point. Another way to think about it, is to think about sitting back in a chair behind you, but stopping short of sitting down and raising back up;
- With lunges, I strongly suggest doing “Step Back” lunges rather than your typical lunge style of stepping forward. Often times we step down hard when stepping forward and place too much pressure and weight on and over our knee, which extend over our toes. This is bad form and can cause knee injury and pain. Stepping back for your lunge alleviates the forward leaning motion and helps us maintain good posture and form.
- Start by using only body weight for your lunges and if needed add more reps and sets as your strength increases. Other progressions can incorporate Jump Squats or Jump Lunges and use of Resistance Bands. Only use weights when you have solid and level floor, have a partner to spot you, and have shown you have a solid foundation of strength, posture, and proper form to manage the weight you are using. BE SAFE J