Curtsy lunges, AKA curtsy squats, are a great bodyweight exercise to not only strengthen your legs and glute muscles but they can also get your heart rate up so you burn more fat. Some people claim the curtsy exercise is bad for your knees. Uneducated people if I may say so:) because it’s not true. It’s only bad for your knees if you curtsy the wrong way, and especially if it hurts when you’re doing it. Don’t miss out on this great lower body exercise that works the glute medius so well. Plus, it works your lower body in a different plane. There are three planes of movement for the body: sagittal, frontal and transverse planes. The sagittal is most common. Curtsies fall into the transverse plane. The best way to avoid overuse injuries is to work in all three planes.
REMINDER: ANY exercise is bad for you if it hurts when you’re doing it! So either stop doing it or figure out why it’s hurting. Often, just shifting your foot position or the emphasis of an exercise will make the knee pain go away. Basically, it should feel right for your body when you move it in a certain way. The vast majority of MY clients with knee pain are able to do curtsy lunges but generally not anterior or side lunges.
Let me show you how to perform a curtsy the right way so you don’t strain your knees in my video:
- Stand shoulder-width apart with good posture. Shoulders back, chest up and abs in. I like to have my hands on my hips, but you can hold them together before you if you prefer.
- Pick one leg to work first. If you’re worried about straining your knees and/or maintaining good form, DON’T ALTERNATE SIDES. Stick to one leg at a time. I will start lunging with my left leg.
- Step behind you in a diagonal to mimic a curtsy, shoulders back and chest up all the while. Never lose eye contact with what’s before you. Always keep your spine neutral. Doing this in front of a mirror is often helpful. Aim to dip your left knee–the lunging leg–to the ground before returning to your starting position. Be aware of the knee shifting during the lowering phase. The key to avoiding knee strain is to keep the lunging leg’s knee closely aligned to the stationary leg’s heel.
- As with any other exercise, always work in a pain-free range. If it hurts your knee to go all the way down, don’t go all the way down. Or try to figure out if the pain is only a matter of bad form. It’s often the case. You get the most out of this exercise if you lower yourself as much as possible.
- Only add weight to this exercise once you master the form perfectly.
- Do 12-15 reps each leg for two or three sets.