A basic lunge is the cornerstone of many physical-fitness routines because it doesn't require any equipment and is easy, even for beginners. A lunge works your thighs, abs, back and glutes, and can be one ingredient in the recipe for a healthy, toned body. But improper or forced lunges can pull the muscles of your inner thighs, leading to strains and sprains, muscular pain and knee problems. If you already have a pulled muscle, talk to your doctor before doing lunges. If you're simply hoping to avoid an injury catastrophe, focus on proper form and avoid forcing uncomfortable movements.
Warm up by taking a brisk walk or cycling at a moderate clip for five to 10 minutes. Muscles are more flexible and less prone to injury after a warm up. Stretch your quadriceps by pulling your feet up toward your rear with your knee bent until you feel a stretch. Next, stretch your hamstrings by positioning one foot on a stool and bending your knee, then leaning into the bent knee. Switch sides to stretch the other leg.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your spine straight, and your hands at either side of your body. Take a step forward with your right foot so that it is 2 to 3 feet in front of your left foot. This step should not be uncomfortable, but should be larger than your usual steps. Keep your toes and knees pointing straight forward when you step, and avoid rotating your hips.
Bend your front knee and begin lowering your torso to the ground. Keep your knee pointing forward without rotating it. Next, bend your rear knee to complete the process of lowering yourself. If your knees begin to rotate, return to your original position but take a smaller step forward this time.
Push your hips slightly backward as you lower yourself to the ground. Avoid pushing your hips forward to compensate for imbalances. If you're unable to lunge completely to the ground without rotating your knees or pushing your hips forward, try doing a partial lunge. Simply go as close to the ground as you can without changing proper form, then continue lowering yourself into this position for several reps.
Return to your original position by straightening your knees. Take a step back with your front foot, and then repeat the exercise by stepping forward with your other foot.
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.