Flexibility and Strengthening Exercises
These exercises are useful to get you in shape for more vigorous aerobic exercise or as part of your warm-up and cool-down routines.
Hip And Leg Exercises
1. Straight Leg Raise
This exercise strengthens the muscles that bend the hip and straighten the knee.
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat.
Straighten one leg. Tighten the muscle on the top of that thigh and straighten the knee as much as possible.
Keeping the knee straight, raise your leg one to two feet (about 50 cm) off the ground. Do not arch your back.
Hold your leg up and count out loud for ten seconds.
Relax. Repeat with the other leg.
2. Hip Hooray
This exercise can be done standing or lying on your back.
If you lie down, spread your legs as far apart as possible. Roll your legs and feet out like a duck and then in, pigeon-toed.
If you are standing, move one leg out to your side as far as you can. Lead out and in with the heel. Hold onto a counter for support.
3. Back Kick
This exercise increases the backward mobility and strength of your hip.
Hold onto a counter for support. Move the leg up and back, knee straight. Stand tall and do not arch your back.
4. Knee Strengthener
This exercise strengthens the knee.
Sitting in a chair straighten the knee by tightening up the muscle on top of your thigh.
Place your hand on your thigh and feel the muscle work.
Holding your knee as straight as possible, push out with your heel and then point your toes.
As your knee strengthens, see if you can build up to holding your leg out for thirty seconds. Count out loud. Do not hold your breath.
5. Power Knees
This exercise strengthens the muscles that bend and straighten your knee.
Sit in a straight-backed chair and cross your legs above the ankles.
Your legs can be almost straight, or you can bend your knees as much as you like. Try several positions.
Push forward with your back leg and press backward with your front leg.
Exert pressure evenly so that your legs do not move. Hold and count out loud for ten seconds.
Relax. Change leg positions. Be sure to keep breathing.
6. Hamstring Stretch
This is a good exercise to do if you get muscle cramps in the back of your thigh.
Caution: If you have unstable knees, or "back knee" (a knee that curves backward when you stand up), do not do this exercise.
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat. Grasp one leg at a time just above the knee and hold the leg at a right angle with the body.
Holding the leg out at arm's length, slowly straighten the knee. Hold the leg as straight as you can as you count to ten.
Caution: Be careful. It's easy to overstretch and be sore with this exercise.
7. Achilles Stretch
This exercise helps maintain flexibility in the Achilles tendon, the large tendon at the back of your ankle. This exercise is especially helpful for cooling down after walking or cycling, and for people with ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis and also for calf cramps.
Stand at a counter or against a wall. Place one foot in front of the other, toes pointing forward and heels on the ground.
Lean forward, bend the knee of the forward leg and keep the back knee straight, heel down. You will feel a good stretch in the calf.
Hold the stretch for ten seconds. Do not bounce, Move gently.
This exercise strengthens your calf muscles and make walking, climbing stairs, and standing less tiring.
Hold on to a counter or table for support and raise up on your tiptoes.
Hold for ten seconds. Lower slowly.
Next Topic: Ankle And Feet Exercises
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