Fit Life: Building strength in legs

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SPRINGFIELD Mo --- On this Fit Life, we're looking at stability exercises for walkers, runners and everyone else too. You can do these exercises at home.

Nicole Wallen from The Physical Therapist Assistant Program
at Ozarks Technical Community College shared these two moves with us. Here's what she wrote:

Bulgarian Split Squat: This elevated split squat is a great way to build single-leg strength while adding some hip mobility and balance into an exercise. This exercise requires pushing off with one leg while maintaining proper form, similar to that of running (see video demonstration).

· Items needed: A bench, step or footstool that you can rest your foot on, it needs to be below knee height.

· Position: Forward lunge position with the torso upright, the core braced and hips square to your body, with your back foot resting on the step behind you. The front leg should be approximately half a meter in front of the bench with toes pointing forward.

· Lower self until the front thigh is almost horizontal with the ground, driving the forward knee toward the toes. The knee must not travel beyond the toes. Proper form will in turn help with the mechanics of the knee joint and hip complex.

· Once the front thigh is horizontal, drive up through the front heel back to the starting position. Make sure you keep the movement slow and controlled while maintaining your balance.

· It is important to get the “distance right.” The closer you stand to the bench, the more emphasis that will be put on the quadriceps muscle and more potential for the knee to go over the toes. The further you stand from the bench, the greater mobility will be required of the back hip.

Lateral (Side) Lunge: This is a great exercise to work on the stabilizing muscles that are required while running.

· Position self with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed straight forward.

· Step out with the left foot as wide as possible.

· If you take too big of a step or not a big enough step you run the risk of putting extra stress on the knee. To maintain proper form, make sure your hip, knee, and ankle are all in alignment (in a straight line) when seated into the squat.

· Engage through the right heel as you lower your hips down and sit back while keeping the leg straight. Maintain both soles of the feet on the ground and toes pointed forward. This will stretch the groin on the right leg.

· Then push into your right heel into the floor to push yourself back to a standing position.