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Are Lunges Bad for Your Knees?

Are Lunges Bad for Your Knees?

A lunge is a single-leg exercise that involves multiple joints in its functioning. It works the gluteal muscles (glutes), quadriceps (quads), core and hamstrings. So how are lunges bad for your knees?

Depending on the manner of execution, there are many different types of lunges including forward lunges, stationary lunges, side/lateral lunges, twist lunges, curtsy lunges, walking lunges, jumping lunges, reverse lunges and dumbbell lunges.

Lunges are a famous strength training exercise for sculpting, tone, or strengthening their bodies.

Despite being one of the most popular strength training exercises, word on the street is that lunges may actually be bad for your knees.

How are lunges bad for your knees? Or rather why, if at all it’s true, are lunges bad for your knees? These are the questions this article attempts to answer.


Are Lunges Bad for Your Knees?

Before we answer the questions “how are lunges bad for your knees” and “why are lunges bad for your knees”, we should probably begin by  mentioning the benefits associated with making lunges which include;


Lunges work big muscle groups in your body such as the quads, hamstrings, glutes and the back muscles.

This enables your body to build lean muscle and shed fat.

It can also increase your body’s resting metabolism, which allows you to burn more calories and shed excess body weight.


Lunges can correct misalignments and imbalances in your body hence making it more symmetrical.


Lunges are a unilateral lower body workout since you work on each side of your body independently.

The lateral leg movements activate your stabilizing muscles which enables you to develop coordination, balance and stability.

A 2009 study showed that walking lunges improve hamstring strength which in turn improves the body’s overall balance and stability.

Another research study done by the American Council on Exercise found that forward lunges elicit a very high level of muscle activity in the glutes.

Glutes are some of the body’s most prominent muscle groups contributing to the body’s overall stability when adequately strengthened.


Lunges can improve your posture by strengthening your back and core muscles.

Curtsy lunges strengthen and tone your glutes, which is excellent for your posture.


It is normal to feel some discomfort on your knees while making lunges since they are typically executed by inching towards the ground in a kneeling position.

Forward lunges, jumping lunges and walking lunges have particularly been pointed out for causing the most knee discomfort.

However, for some people, it’s a bit more than some slight discomfort; it is an actual pain that can go on for hours after exercising.

If you are one of those people whose knees get hurt by lunges, the first thing you need to do is try identifying the root cause of the pain.

During lunges, the pain you feel may be a pointer to a joint, ligament or tendon injury that needs to be addressed or even an underlying health condition such as arthritis.

Aside from injuries, usually the primary reason for knee pain during lunges, your knee pain could be caused by poor form or weak glutes.

If your front knee doesn’t end in front of your toes when you are making lunges, you probably have a too narrow stance, making your form poor.

You can correct this by increasing the distance between your front and back foot, reducing the pressure on the knee joint hence reducing or even eliminating pain.

Weak glutes can be indicated by the inward collapse of your knees when you are lunging.

Gluteal muscles that are not strong will not properly support the upper leg muscles, which will cause you to feel a strain on your knee when you are making a lunge.

Fortunately, weak glutes can be strengthened with exercises such as glute bridges, clamshells, banded lateral walks and sit-to-stands.


Lunges do not usually cause knee problems.

If you experience extreme knee pain or other knee problems after doing lunges, chances are you either have an injury around the knee region, or you have a pre-existing condition that you are unaware of.


You can avoid sustaining knee injury from lunges by ensuring you execute them in the correct manner that will avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your knees.

This you can achieve by ensuring your knees are well-positioned when you are lunging.

You can also do knee stretches regularly.

Stretching reduces tension in the knee’s muscles, which decreases the pressure around the knee joint and reduces the likelihood of feeling knee pain when doing lunges.

Stretching also loosens taut muscles and improves their flexibility.

Furthermore, you can add weight training to your workout regimen and focus on strengthening the muscles that support the knee joint.

Studies suggest that strengthening muscles reduces the risk of injury during exercise.


If you have bad knees, especially the kind caused by health conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knees, you should generally avoid exercises that put pressure on them.

Apart from lunges, other exercises that would not be good for you if you have bad knees are:


This exercise requires you to bend your knees and lower your hips as close to the ground as you can before standing up again.

If you have bad knees, this exercise can be extremely challenging and painful since it puts a strain on the knee joint.


A full arc extension involves placing a large ball under your knee which acts a pivot point, extending your knees forward to stretch the muscles on the lower leg.

Bending your knee may cause irritation and inflammation to your knees if they are already bad.

However, this issue can be remedied using a smaller ball that will put less strain on your knees hence reducing the possibility of suffering irritation or inflammation on the knee region.


Other exercises can be done as an alternative to lunges for people with bad knees, which have the same effect as lunges. These exercises include;


To do this, walk 10 to 30 yards while bringing your knee up to a 90-degree position before placing it on the ground again.

With this exercise, you can still achieve the range of motion workout around the hip and knee muscles without putting pressure on the knee joint.


This exercise is done using a single press machine.

It aims at strengthening the quads, glutes and the hamstrings of the thigh.

To do the single press using the machine, you first put your legs on the footplate while resting your head against the seat pad to provide you with stability. After that, you push the foot platform away from you using your forefoot and heels for a few seconds then you pull your legs back towards your chest cavity.

To avoid sustaining a knee injury while doing this exercise, you should ensure your feet are not too high on the platform as this would put unnecessary pressure on your knees.


This is a straightforward exercise that doesn’t require you to use any specialized gym equipment.

It is executed by stepping onto an elevated surface like a bench about as high as your knee and then stepping back down.

You can increase the difficulty level of step-ups by holding dumbbells while lifting your leg up and back down. Weighted step-ups are an excellent muscle-building exercise.

With step-ups, you get to work both your upper leg muscles and the lower ones, making it even more effective.


Lunges have plenty of benefits in the realm of fitness, some of which have been discussed in this article.

You don’t need to be worried if you experience mild knee pain while doing them because it is quite normal.

However, you should be sure to get checked at the hospital if the pain becomes a bit too much.

Are lunges bad for your knees? This is a question that I believe has been adequately addressed in this article.

As long as you do not have any underlying conditions that would intensify knee pain when you are lunging, you need not worry about lunges causing damage to your knees.

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