Are Lateral Lunges Bad For The Knees?

lateral lunge
January 23, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “are lateral lunges bad for the knees?”. Lateral lunges or side lunges are a lunge variation that hit the glutes, hamstrings and adductors really well. They are very good for emphasising the outer glutes.

There are many important points to take into consideration when exploring this topic. By the end of this article you will have a good insight into all the key considerations.

Are Lateral Lunges Bad For The Knees?

Firstly, if you already have pre existing knee injuries you should be very careful with this exercise. Try it with bodyweight first and assess how your body feels. Performing the lateral lunge with bad or sub par form will indeed be unforgiving on your knees and increase the risk of injury.

It is essential that you learn how to do lateral lunges with solid technique from the outset. This will reduce your chance of suffering injuries and help to keep your knees healthy. 

Lateral lunges performed correctly will not cause knee injuries for the vast majority of people. If you do this exercise regularly with very high volume then it can cause wear and tear long term.

You also have to be mindful of the weights that you use when performing weighted side lunges. This is to keep you safe, it is best to start very light and perfect the technique. When increasing weights do so very slowly.

Can Be Dangerous If Not Acclimated

It is very important to ease yourself into the exercise, if you jump straight in without practicing there is a far greater risk of injury.

With the lateral lunge it is crucial to first understand how to perform them with proper technique. I will be discussing the correct technique soon. First start with bodyweight lateral lunges and get your body acclimated to the exercise.

Then from there you can start performing them weighted. Start with very light dumbbells first and then progress slowly from there. 
lateral lunge

Proper Technique On The Lateral Lunge

Now I am going to outline how to perform lateral lunges with proper technique. For that there is a video that you can watch below from coach Nestler which does a great job at showing how to perform this exercise right.

A big mistake that many people make is they shift too much of their weight onto the lunging leg. They also don’t involve their hips into the movement as much as they should.

Shifting too much weight onto one leg can increase the risk of knee injuries and hip injuries, especially if you are performing these weighted with decent weight. In addition, many people collapse the non lunging foot as shown in the video – this could increase the risk of knee injuries and knee pain.

Instead, the correct way to do the lateral lunge is to focus on getting your hips into the movement as you perform the lunge. To facilitate this better you should have your lunging foot a tiny bit in front of your non lunging foot. 

Keep An Eye On Total Volume

When doing lateral lunges it is important to pay attention to your total volume and how your body responds to it.

If for example you are performing a few set of 15 reps twice a week on this exercise and finding that you are experiencing aches and pains, you should consider dialling back on the total volume.

Listening to your body in this way is incredibly important for longevity in your training. Blindly following what your training program calls for without regard to how your body is feeling is not a good idea.

A good example of this that I have experienced for myself is an injury I suffered doing hack squats. I blindly tried to do the prescribed number of reps that my training program called for and ignored how hard it was for my body. This resulted in straining my lower back in that session.

So it really is pivotal to listen to your body and pick up cues from the feedback that it is giving you. When it comes to lateral lunges, it may be that the movement simply doesn’t agree with your body and constantly causes you pain.

If this is the case then simply replace the movement with a different one that works similar muscles. This is one of the reasons why I don’t perform bulgarian split squats nowadays, I find that it irritates my hip flexors and adductors. 

Instead of doing this movement I do other leg exercises and started doing weighted step ups.

Knee Sleeves For Extra Safety

If you want to reduce the risk of knee pain and knee injuries, knee sleeves are a great investment. They help to keep your knees warm and reduce the risks of suffering a knee injury from exercising.

Much in the same way that elbow sleeves can keep your elbows healthy long term and reduce the likelihood of tendonitis that can come about from heavy presses and extensions. 

Final Thoughts

Are lateral lunges bad for the knees? Overall, if you perform them with correct form and ease your way into the movement you shouldn’t experience knee pain or knee injures.

If you have pre existing knee pain or injuries then you should take even greater care and dip your toes slowly into the water. Certainly do not try to perform heavy weighted lateral lunges without being acclimated to the exercise first.

It is crucial to dial in solid technique, without this you are exposing yourself to greater risks down the road of injuries. For injury prevention consider investing in a pair of quality knee sleeves.

Also pay attention to your total volume on the lateral lunge. Listen to how your body responds to the exercise and don’t ignore any warning signs! It may be that this exercise just doesn’t suit your body – if so it is not a problem. Simply replace it with a different exercise.

If you have any comments on this topic please share them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>>Are Step Ups And Lunges The Same?

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