6 Methods to Modify Squats and Lunges for Bad Knees

 

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6 Ways to Modify Squats and Lunges for Bad Knees. by Shane Barnard, JD. December 23, 2015. 22 Comments.

Share it: One very important reason for exercising is to improve the way we feel and move every day. We want to be able to play with our children, carry the groceries, and do our gardening without pain or discomfort. Tags bad knees how to.

6 Ways to Modify Squats and Lunges for Bad Knees | MyFitnessPal One very important reason for exercising is to improve the way we feel and move every day. We want to be able to play with our children, carry the groceries, and do our gardening without pain or discomfort. How to Modify a Lunge if You Have Knee Problems.

A shallower motion, possibly using props for stability, will help keep your joints happy. There are a variety of ways to modify a lunge. Depending on the injury or limitation that’s affecting your knees, static (or held) squats can sometimes make a good alternative to their full-range-of-motion counterparts. How to do it: Stand with feet hip width, arms crossed over chest.

Lower into squat, keeping chest lifted and knees behind toes. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds then stand back up. Change or increase the weight or modality by using a barbell or kettlebell instead of dumbbells.

Change the weights position: front squat, back squat, Zercher squat. Add another motion in between squat reps: squat to alternating backward lunge back to squat, squat to calf raise, squat to lateral or curtsy lunge, “skinny” squat to wide squat. Here are three squat modifications that are effective for every body: the wall squat, the sit-to-stand squat, and the stand-to-sit squat.

The Wall Squat. This modification is a great option for people with bad knees. “Because you’re leaning weight against the wall and only going down part way, you can spare your knees,” says Pagano. If you have a lot of weight to lose—enough that both lunges and squats aren’t realistic—there are simpler ways to begin exercising, such as these 50 tips for getting started. Several common exercises can cause some knee pain (like lunges, squats and jumping jacks for starters), but there are ways to modify to keep you pain-free. “General exercise modifications include decreasing speed, increasing control or avoiding deep knee bends,” says Eugene Yim, M.D., sports medicine physician with Hoag Orthopedic Institute in.

For example, weak hips or quads may force you to place more stress on your legs. The good news is that there are ways to improve lunge form and make the move more comfortable for your knees. Try these lunge modifications for bad knees in your next strength training session. Go one-fourth of the way down. Squatting or lunging with terrible form If your squat or your lunges look like the videos below, then you need to avoid them.

Without being mindful of your form, you’re going to continue to bother the knee joints and place undue stress on the ligaments and tendons. More often than not, poor form is the source of knee aggravation.

List of related literature:

Deep squats activate the VMO more than regular squats or leg extension and help stabilize the knee.

“Optimal Muscle Training” by Ken Kinakin
from Optimal Muscle Training
by Ken Kinakin
Human Kinetics, 2009

Partial knee flexion and extension: From standing, lower your center of gravity as low as possible in a Single-Leg Half Squat, hold the position several seconds, stand up, and then do the same again.

“The Practice of Natural Movement: Reclaim Power, Health, and Freedom” by Erwan Le Corre
from The Practice of Natural Movement: Reclaim Power, Health, and Freedom
by Erwan Le Corre
Victory Belt Publishing, 2019

To make this exercise more effective, do the movements in a 4-count sequence1) step to side, keeping hips and shoulders square, 2) lower body into a squat, 3) stand, 4) drag non-lead leg in, placing feet together.

“Fitness Instructor Training Guide” by Cheryl L. Hyde, American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness
from Fitness Instructor Training Guide
by Cheryl L. Hyde, American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness
Kendall/Hunt, 2002

In fact, reclaiming a knees-out position as you rise out of the squat will cause your pelvis to wobble—when your knees come in, your pelvis dumps forward, and when your knees move out, your pelvis rotates backward—creating shear across your lumbar spine.

“Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance” by Kelly Starrett, Glen Cordoza
from Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance
by Kelly Starrett, Glen Cordoza
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These exercises include the hurdler’s stretch; the single-leg or double-leg inverted hurdler’s stretch; deep knee bends, lunges, or squats (with or without weights); the standing straight-leg toe touch; the arch or bridge; the standing torso twist (with or without weights); inversion; and the shoulderstand or plow.

“Science of Flexibility” by Michael J. Alter
from Science of Flexibility
by Michael J. Alter
Human Kinetics, 2004

To add intensity to this exercise while maintaining the position achieved in step 2, lift and lower the top leg three to five times before lowering both legs in step 3.

“Pilates Anatomy” by Rael Isacowitz, Karen S. Clippinger
from Pilates Anatomy
by Rael Isacowitz, Karen S. Clippinger
Human Kinetics, 2019

(Note: Squats are fine, but avoid lunges and deep knee bends because your joints will be more prone to injury.)

“What to Expect When You're Expecting 4th Edition” by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel
from What to Expect When You’re Expecting 4th Edition
by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel
Simon & Schuster UK, 2010

The step-up shares a lot of the same guidelines as the squat and split squat in that you want to keep your back in your neutral zone (as flat as possible), avoid excessive inward knee movement, drive through your heel or midfoot, and raise your torso and hips in one fluid motion.

“Glute Lab: The Art and Science of Strength and Physique Training” by Bret Contreras, Glen Cordoza
from Glute Lab: The Art and Science of Strength and Physique Training
by Bret Contreras, Glen Cordoza
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• Squats: Range of motion should be decreased (knees should never be flexed beyond 90°).

“Science and Practice of Strength Training” by Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky, William J. Kraemer, Andrew C. Fry
from Science and Practice of Strength Training
by Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky, William J. Kraemer, Andrew C. Fry
Human Kinetics, 2020

(2) Keeping your head up and back straight, bend your knees and lower yourself until your thighs are just lower than parallel to the floor.

“The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revis” by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Dobbins
from The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revis
by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Dobbins
Simon & Schuster, 2012

Alexia Lewis RD

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8 comments

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  • I love dancing but lately my ankles knees and hips are starting to feel it and I’m 60 but I don’t want to stop dancing yet so hopefully these exercises will help

  • I love this video nicely explained and l really need more of this, real knee exercises or stretches for both of my knees problem! Thank you!!!

  • Nice! All the exercises are known by me. They’re really useful.

    BUT… my orthopedist forbade me doing exercises in the standing position…
    Nothing in the standing position…! Sitting and lying only!

  • Thank you for this. I have bad knees and have a lot of trouble with lunges. I never know how far back to extend my leg. Love the yoga block idea.

  • Very good video with great demo and precise instructions. I am putting this into practice and hope to strengthen muscles around knee to gain great mobility. Thanks.

  • What if your knees crunch all the time and the pain feels like someone is drilling a screw in? Are these signs of osteoarthritis or something else?

  • I don’t even know you, but I’m so proud of you! Thank you for the motivation! Keep posting! We are watching! And, we are getting up and moving with you!

  • thanks for sharing.. I love dancing but not doing it since 3 yrs now.. I am diagonised wd osteoarthritis in the age of 27 yrs.. I am really afraid tht by doing any kind of exercise or dancing I will damage my knee..but not anymore.