Question:

I’m beginning a weight training program after a long hiatus (6 months) from any kind of training. When I did my first lower body day, I had to stop after my first set of body weight walking lunges because of sharp pain in my glutes and the tops of my hamstrings. This was the 4th exercise of my workout and I warmed up and stretched beforehand. What would have caused this pain? Poor form, lack of strength, or something else? How can I build up to doing lunges without this pain? I am 23 years old and do not have a history of injury.


Answer:

I am sorry to hear that you are having pain in your glutes and hamstrings. While I cannot make specific recommendations regarding your case without doing a thorough evaluation, I can offer some general information that may be helpful for you.

I think that it is safe to say that any of the things you mentioned could contribute to pain (poor form, strength deficits, too much too soon). You had just initiated these lower extremity exercises after a long hiatus and a lunge is a very demanding exercise that works the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and adductors (inner thigh) to a high degree. It’s possible that because of the layoff, you lost some strength, and your body was not quite ready for such a challenging exercise. If the three preceding exercises worked these same muscle groups, it is even more likely your muscles weren’t quite strong enough to complete the lunges.

If the pain is improving and you feel up for building up to walking lunges, you can substitute a few things in for that exercise until you build up some strength. A simple double leg body weight squat would be a great exercise that is very similar to a lunge but spreads out the demand over both legs more equally. If that is still painful, you could try a bridge exercise to further reduce the challenge. Additionally, you may just modify your walking lunge depth so you are not going as low into the lunge. This will decrease the demand on the muscles. Over the course of several weeks, you may increase depth as you get stronger if you are not experiencing increased pain. Also, you can change the order of your exercises so that lunges are one of the first things you are doing and see if that helps.

The sharp pain you experienced during exercise could be a strained muscle. If you are finding that your pain is persistent and these suggestions are not helping, I would strongly consider seeing a Physical Therapist. We are the movement experts and can accurately determine whether this is a muscle strain injury. Physical therapists will often find areas that are weak, tight, or not functioning well and use a combination of exercise and hands on treatment that is tailored to your unique situation.


**This reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.