When you've finally gotten into the daily grind of a fitness routine, suddenly feeling pain can be frustrating. Lunges can help you achieve the sexy body you crave by strengthening your legs, back and butt. But they can also cause pain in your joints and hyperextension. Hyperextension doesn't mean that you have to give up on fitness altogether, though. Instead, focus on other exercises until the pain eases up, and consult your doctor if the pain is severe or gets worse.
What is Hyperextension?
The most common location for hyperextension is the knees, and this form of hyperextension is called patella femoral pain syndrome. Your joints have a normal range of motion they can move through, but if you push past this range, you can end up with a hyperextended joint or muscle. If you're new to lunges, your range of motion might be pretty small, making it much easier to accidentally hyperextend a joint as you push down into the lunge position. Bending your knees past the point of comfort, putting your front foot too far in front of your back foot and using uncomfortably heavy weights during a lunge can all increase your risk of a hyperextension. Poor form and poor balance can also put you at risk.
When you're doing lunges, the most common victim of hyperextension is the knee. The ligaments, cartilage and muscles surrounding the knee can be stretched to their breaking point. Usually, you'll feel symptoms immediately as you lunge down or stand back up. You may feel snapping, burning or pulling, and the pain typically continues even after you've stopped working out. If the pain lasts more than a few hours, consult your doctor to find out its exact cause.
The first line of treatment is to avoid exercises such as lunges that have the potential to worsen the hyperextension. Any exercise that puts stress on the joints -- such as running or jogging -- can also cause problems. You'll need to give your joints time to heal on their own, and rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and alternating hot and cold packs can speed up this process. If you have serious joint problems, your doctor might prescribe stronger medications, surgery or physical therapy.
Strengthening the muscles around the hyperextended joint can help you avoid another hyperextension. Your doctor may give you a list of safe exercises. Stretching before and after exercise can also help. When and if you return to lunges, start with a small number of reps and only go as far down as you can comfortably go without your muscles shaking or losing your balance.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.