Push, squat, pull, lunge, bend, twist and gait are all movements intrinsically encoded into our bodies and contribute to our overall health and well-being. They demand strength and control and we MUST keep performing them despite the many modern conveniences that have us avoiding them. Unfortunately most of us can no longer execute these movements in a healthy way due to tension patterns, weakness, old injuries, poor co-ordination and a host of other factors. So it is of utmost importance that you not only understand why these movements are so important but also how to perform them in a safe and effective manner. There is no point in just battling through blindly. Take time to read this post, put yourself in front of a mirror and use these images to guide you.
In this post I will illustrate the third primal movement pattern: LUNGE. (Click here to read Part 1 – PUSH and here for Part 2 – SQUAT)
Lunges are another essential movement pattern that contributed to our successful nomadic roaming and evolutionary dominance thousands of years ago. Lunges are fundamental to everyday movement – they directly improve the performance of walking, running and climbing. With the amount of time we spend sitting in modern life (which creates weakness, illness and low energy levels) the lunge is one of the most effective movements to restore flexibility and strength in our hips, thighs and lower back – so get up and get moving!
Lunges are great for the whole body but are particularly beneficial for the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abs and spine. Thus said they improve:
- Symmetry between both sides of the body
- Fat burning and muscle tone
HOW TO LUNGE
Start off simple with my first step below – static lunges. Move with mindful intention and attention: understand and allow your body to relearn how to lunge correctly. Once you have set the blueprint of a healthy lunge into your neuromuscular system then move onto the next steps.
KEEPING READING UNTIL THE END FOR THE ALIGNMENT CUES
STEP 1: Static lunge
Begin standing with your hands on your hips or loose beside your body, take a big step forward and hold.
Point both feet, knees, hips and shoulders straight ahead. Have your spine absolutely upright as if you were standing. Eyes looking straight ahead. This is your beginning position:
Bend your back leg aiming your knee straight down to the floor, straighten up the back leg a bit, bend again to the floor. Repeat x10, then repeat with the other leg in front.
STEP 2: Walking lunges
Step one leg forward, bending both legs – push from the back foot and bring the back leg forward stepping straight into your next lunge. Repeat x10 on each side (you may need to walk around the room if you don’t have the space to walk in one long line)
STEP 3: Swing-through lunges
Stepping forward and backward lunges. Step one leg forward into a lunge, take that same leg backwards and bend into a lunge, take the same leg forward and bend into a lunge. Repeat x10 then swap sides.
STEP 4: Deep stretch lunges
Begin in a squat position with arms forward:
Step one leg back, shooting the arms backwards and stretching the back leg. Bend the back leg and step it forward into the squat position again. Repeat alternating to each side x5.
- Connect your front foot firmly to the floor but have slightly more weight in the heel.
- Spread the toes of your back foot and press through the floor to help bring you up and down (step 1) or forward and back (steps 2-5).
- Point your knees over your second or third toes – never ever let the knee knock inwards/point over the big toe.
- If your knees feel uncomfortable make the angle of your front leg be 90 degrees / have your heel under your knee as opposed to your toes
- Keep your head on top of and in line with your pelvis – whether you’re upright (step 1-4) or on a diagonal forward (step 5)
- Draw your abs into your spine and draw your head up towards the sky.
- Keep your collarbones wide and shoulders wide.
- Find the opposition between pressing your feet to the floor vs drawing your head to the sky – this contrast will help to maintain healthy space around all joints while also building strength throughout your body.
- As you move think of being light, fluid and elastic – never heavy footed or compressing / sitting into your joints
- If you want an added challenge perform all steps while holding light hand weights then advance to heavier weights or kettle bells.