You use your legs every day, yet likely don’t think much about them. That is, until you get injured. Many people have ankle, knee and hip pain that can be resolved with some strengthening exercises. The following five exercises will strengthen the hip girdle area, as well as test your stability and prepare you to move with power.
The first two will wake up your hip girdle and get you ready for movement. Strive to engage your core (between your pubic bone and belly button) – enough so there’s tension, not so much that you can’t breathe. Grab a yoga mat, or any soft area will do.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
1. Clam shells
Lie on your side and make a 45 degree angle with your knees. Keep your hips stacked, and core engaged, and move leg up to 60 degrees, keeping the feet together, making legs look like a clam shell opening. Repeat 12-15 times on each side.
2. Donkey kicks
Table top position with hands under shoulders and knees under hip. Lift right knee and bring it as close as possible to the chest, and then kick foot back and up, trying to hook the foot over the back. Maintain posture, and don’t thrust out your chest in the kick back. Aim for slower, controlled movement. Repeat 12-15 times on each side.
The next two exercises will test your stability and build strength in your legs.
With the standing leg make sure your foot is relaxed and you’re standing on your full foot (not on the heel or toes). You should be able to wiggle your toes at any time.
3. Split squat
Place the top of one foot on a chair behind you. Squat, bending the other leg 90 degrees. Make sure your knee is over your ankle, as the most common issue with this exercise is incorrect placement of the front foot. Most will place the front foot too close to the chair, causing the knee to go too far forward, and potential discomfort.
Get more glute and hamstring involvement, with less knee pain, by moving the front foot to a position that keeps the knee directly above the ankle. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.
4. Pistol squat
Lift one leg straight out in front of you, flex your foot, then squat as far as you can go while keeping the extended leg lifted. Start with 10 to 15 reps on each side. This last exercise will get your heart pumping and power up those legs!
5. Jump ups
Stand in front of a secured box, platform, bleacher or step. Jump onto platform, and immediately back down to same position. Aim to land on the platform with the front 3/4 of your foot. Repeat as quickly as possible for 60 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for a total of six minutes.
In each exercise, aim to keep your core engaged and drive your movement from there. Breathe deep in the belly, fully exhaling each time.
For maximum results, do all five exercises. Rest for two minutes, and do another full round.