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Human Movement Series (Part 3) The Lunge-By Michael Hansen, PT, DPT

by ksumner, October 9, 2020

Human Movement Series (Part 3)

The Lunge



  1. Hip Hinge
  2. Squat
  3. Lunge (Single Leg)
  4. Push (Upper Body)
  5. Pull (Upper Body)
  6. Loaded Carry


In part 3 of our human movement blog series we progress to a unilateral, or one side at a time, movement, the lunge. We lunge multiple times throughout the day probably without even noticing we are doing it. When we step forward to reach down in a cabinet, or when we step up a curb we are performing a type of single leg lunge activity. Being able to properly lunge will also help you to get up and down from the ground easier, shift your weight forwards, backwards and laterally when standing, and helps with balance to reduce risk for falls.

The lunge is also a great exercise because it works multiple muscle groups at the same time including: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and core muscles. It can be done with no additional equipment and can be performed in multiple directions, intensities and speeds to modify the difficulty.

However, if done incorrectly the lunging motion can lead to compensations and pain in areas like the low back, anterior knee and the hip joint. Some basic cues that I use daily with patients to ensure proper form with lunging are:


  1. Maintain a light to moderate abdominal contraction- this helps to prevent excessive movement of the low back and avoids excessive arching, rounding or twisting when performing to movement.
  2. Avoid letting knees move too far forward past your toes- some say that it is a hard and fast rule to never let your knees go past your toes, but I think it is more about being able to control the motion. If we were that strict, we wouldn’t be able to do things like step down stairs because it requires your knee to go past your toes. I encourage my patients to be aware of their knee positioning and learn how to control that motion by engaging their hip and thigh muscles.
  3. Try to move equally through hip and knee joints- when one of our joints gets stiff we tend to move excessively through another joint to help us accomplish the movement. If we are able to equally load through both joints it will reduce the stress, limit injury and increase success with the movement.

    I encourage all of my patients to perform lunges in multiple directions as we are 3 dimensional beings and move in all directions throughout the day. Here are a couple variations of lunges to try at home from easiest to hardest.


Standing forward lunge with support:


Standing reverse lunge:

Lateral Lunge:


Curtsey Lunge: