Knee pain with lunges?

A common question I receive is regarding knee pain and/or modifications when it comes to lunges.

First off, if you have had knee surgery or have been given knee exercises from your practitioner/physiotherapist, I advise you to continue with any strength building exercises that have been recommended. By building up the muscle around the knee, that will help you be able to bear more weight on the knee.

Further to that, if you find that it’s the front or reverse lunges that bother you more, then I recommend sticking to the one that does not cause knee pain. (Many people find reverse lunges feel better than forward lunges)

Additional points:

  • Check your form. Is your weight in your heel (when doing a forward lunge, you may find you are pushing your weight into your knee – try keeping your weight focussed in your heel as you lunge forward. When doing a reverse lunge, your weight should also be focussed in your heel of your front leg)
  • In a forward lunge, your knee should line up above your foot
  • Ensure you are stepping directly back/forward versus lunging your leg back while being in line with your stabilizing leg. Ensure your knee of the stability leg is not buckling inward or outward, but rather, maintaining balance of a right angle.
  • Step back far enough (for a reverse lunge) to allow the weight to transfer behind you versus keeping too much weight on the forward knee – this will engage the bigger muscles to bear the weight versus all the weight going forward into your knee
  • put one hand on a wall/chair/ledge for stability when lunging to take some weight off the knee
  • If you experience knee pain, do not add additional dumbbells/weights to the movement until you can lunge pain-free
  • If these options don’t help, you can change up the exercise altogether and instead of lunging you can do one legged bridge lifts, ceiling stomps/donkey kicks, step ups, or split squats (static lunges)

    Here is a quick video that touches on a number of points I make above along with giving a great little demonstration.