Workout Wednesday - Keep Your Legs Healthy

By: Stacia Naquin Email
By: Stacia Naquin Email

Many suffer from pain in knees, ankles and hips. Proper training can ensure healthier joints. This type of training consists of knowing which muscles are overly stretched, which muscles are too tight, and how to correct these imbalances. You must also know safe ranges of motion for your legs so you can productively strengthen and lengthen your particular muscles needed to create balance.

Having someone knowledgeable in assessing your posture is important for creating a healthy, balanced body. Due to past injuries, sedentary lifestyles and or occupations, repetitive motion, and unbalanced workout routines, we tend to create an environment for muscle imbalances. Fitness professionals can assess someone to see where these imbalances are located. Once located, the trainer can design a program relating to correcting the issues. This needs to be the starting phase of training. Neglecting the imbalances can lead to injuries later in the training or during other daily activities.

Training for these imbalances must progress in the correct stages to ensure success for recovery of the muscles. Learning correct form during your training will help in maintaining progress without developing injuries. The program needs to consist of assessments periodically to know that improvement is taking place. As the body develops better posture, the intensity can increase. The training should consist of multiple planes of motion and environments that challenge your balance.

Some examples of leg exercises that can strengthen your joints are:

1. Squats – Depending on your fitness level, this can be done with different intensities. You can be assisted by holding on to the back of a chair or using a fit ball behind your back, against a wall. Remember to maintain correct posture by drawing in your belly and keeping your knees behind your toes as you are moving down. Squat down as low as you can while still maintaining proper posture. When you rise up, be sure to fully extend your hips to get full extension of the hips.

2. Hip raise on ball – This is a great exercise for strengthening the back of your legs while stabilizing with your lower back. Ly down, face up, with your feet and ankles on the top of a fit ball. Extend your arms out to make a cross with your body. Raise your hips up to make your body flat from ankles, knees, hips and shoulders. Slowly lower your hips just before they touch the floor and repeat.

3. Bent-leg, side planks – Lay down on your side. Have your leg that is on the floor bent 90 degrees at the knee. Be sure to keep your body straight from the knee to shoulder. Keep the top leg straight. Hold your body up with your elbow. Raise your hips to straighten your spine. As you rise up, raise your top, straight leg as high as you can. Lower your leg and hip, and repeat.

These are an example of some resistance training exercises. Some other components that can help with healthy joints are cardio exercise and proper nutrition and supplementation.

Depending on your fitness level or injury, your cardio may vary. You may be limited by your range of motion and the amount of resistance your joints can handle. One easy way to start off is on a stationary bike with your seat raised to lessen the range of motion in your hips. As you progress and can handle more resistance, you can move on to an elliptical machine. You can use the treadmill or stair climber when you know your joints are able to handle the impact.

Having someone experienced and knowledgeable can make the difference of a healthy, progressive program. Staying injury free will keep you on track and enjoying the results of fitness. For more information about fitness and nutrition, or for a fitness assessment, you can reach me at 24Hour Fitness 7720 N. Academy Blvd., 80920, (719) 244-9532.

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