6 Ways to Modify Squats and Lunges for Bad Knees

Shane Barnard, JD
by Shane Barnard, JD
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6 Ways to Modify Squats and Lunges for Bad Knees

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. Think of how many times you squat throughout your day or walk up the stairs.

Squats and lunges are functional movements that show up in our daily lives, and can be painful if you have sustained injuries, trauma or overuse issues in your knees.

The good news: With some practice, you can decrease pain and gain strength by executing proper technique while decreasing your range of motion when you squat and lunge. As you get stronger and become more comfortable with these exercises, you’ll be able to increase your range of motion gradually and perform the moves without assistance.

Try these variations and modifications for squats and lunges to help decrease discomfort or pain:

Key Pointers: Make sure your knees don’t extend beyond your toes. Keep your weight in your heels, maintain neutral spine, keep your chest open and flex at your hips.

1. Shallow Squat

2. Wall Squat

3. TRX Squat

Key Pointers: Your legs should be staggered in parallel, and pelvis and spine should be neutral. Extend one leg back slowly and make sure your knees don’t extend beyond your toes.

1. Rocking Lunge

2. Static Lunge with Yoga Block

3. TRX Lunge

About the Author

Shane Barnard, JD
Shane Barnard, JD

Shane is NASM, ACE, AFAA and USATF certified and the creator and founder of the Urbankick format and instructor certifications, co-founder of Urbanplay, a non-profit health and fitness education program for youth, and a business partner at Studio360. With over 20 years of fitness experience, she is a nationally recognized presenter and currently teaches at Crunch, Fitness SF, and the University of California at Berkeley, where she is a health coach. Shane is a CEC provider for ACE and AFFA and an honored ambassador for lululemon. You can work out with Shane and Urbankick anytime, anywhere at BooyaFitness.com.


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