It’s June—the first month of the summer season. Flowers are blooming and fruits and vegetables are bountiful. June is the month where it’s not yet humid but warm enough that we enjoy being outdoors. We may find ourselves taking long walks, riding our bikes or sitting in the yard rummaging through the flower beds. To support the above-mentioned traditional summer activities that require leg strength, balance, and flexibility, we searched for a wellness challenge that would specifically address the need.
The legs are one of the strongest muscle groups in our body. Strong legs are critical to almost any type of daily activity. So, what is a low cost, easily accessible rock-star move to work them? Answer: Lunges. Lunges can be done in a variety of ways and are accessible to all fitness levels. They increase muscle mass to build strength and tone your body. The lunge is a resistance exercise that trains your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps--all at the same time. (Why Are Lunges So Important?, n.d.)
Lunges are lower body unilateral exercises, which means they only work one leg at a time. This causes you to become unbalanced, forcing your body to counteract a fall. When you do this, you work the stabilizer muscles that help keep you balanced. Ultimately you train your body to respond to positional changes, some which may be completely unplanned, which will in turn improve your overall balance. (LaMarco, 2020)
Now flexibility. Lunges improve the flexibility of your hip flexors which is the group of muscles around the upper and inner thigh that help power almost all our movement. We use them to bend or flex our legs at our hips. These muscles are often neglected and if you’re like me and spend an inordinate amount of your day sitting at a desk, those muscles get tight which triggers low back pain. Lunges force the hip flexors to stretch. (Caines, 2019)
Proper form is critical when performing lunges. You will keep one leg straight while making a large step with the other. It is important to point your foot straight. Keep the knee of your bent leg at a 90-degree angle, which is aligned with your foot, but behind the toes. This position will help you prevent knee injury. (Lunges and straddles help build leg strength and flexibility, n.d.)
As always, Google images and YouTube videos to research proper techniques. If necessary, consult a physician. Start slow if you need to. Take smaller steps and work your way up to 90 degrees. See the attached, printable June Lunging in the Sun Challenge and follow along with Tycor or go at your own pace. Either way, let’s all lunge in the sun. Happy Summer!
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Caines, K. (2019, June 20). The Benefits of Lunges. Retrieved from livestrong.com: https://www.livestrong.com/article/336841-the-benefits-of-lunges/
LaMarco, N. (2020, September 28). The major heatlh benefits of lunges and how to do them effectively. Retrieved from insider.com: https://www.insider.com/lunge-benefits
Lunges and straddles help build leg strength and flexibility. (n.d.). Retrieved from bonejoint.net: https://www.bonejoint.net/blog/lunges-and-straddles-help-build-leg-strength-and-flexibility/
Why Are Lunges So Important? (n.d.). Retrieved from 30minutesofeverything.com: https://30minutesofeverything.com/why-are-lunges-so-important/