You're Doing It Wrong: Split Squats (lunges) and Knees Edition

I haven't done one of these posts in a while so I thought it was high time we had another "You're Doing It Wrong" post.

Diving right in, a common complaint we hear at SAPT is knee pain during split squat or lunge variations. Typically it's pain in the front of the knee, though sometimes it's on the sides as well.

*Disclaimer* Please remember that I'm not diagnosing anything and if these general fixes in this post don't help your knees feel better, I'd say there's probably an underlying issue that needs more digging either from a coach (for the easy, common problems like tight or weak glutes) or a therapist of some sort (assuming the coach refers you to someone if your pain is outside of their scope of practice).

Ok, so two of the most common errors we see during split squat/lunges are:

1. Pitching forward into the front knee with the shin angle less than 90 degrees to the floor. Typically, the front heel rises off the floor as well, thus limiting glute involvement in the movement (mostly of the front leg). Glutes don't like that; they like to be involved with exercise so don't leave them out!

2. Shifting too much of the body's weight to the back leg and crumpling into a ball of poo in the back. The front shin will often drift past 90. Again, this position takes out the glutes' involvement and puts too much emphasis in the quads. This causes more pressure to be exerted on the knee joint, which makes it cranky.

Here's a video to distinguish the two errors, followed by a correct split squat. Note that these form corrections carry over to the lunge variations as well.

So how do you do it right?

1. Keep a 70/30 weight distritbution of front to back leg.

2. Keep your front heel down and push through it (as if you were squishing a bug) as you straighten your legs.

3. Squeeze your butt and abs (hmmm.. that sounds familiar.)

4. Don't let your front knee stray over your toes. Your knees will be happier that way.

That's it! Follow those simple guidelines and split squats and your knees should work together like the Harry Potter Trio!