Beginner at Home Exercises Part 3: Legs/Ankles

The last exercise set in our at home beginner workout series focuses on legs. Strength and mobility in our legs is one of the biggest factors that contribute to maintaining independence. Not only do they offer us the ability to get to and from where we need to go, but by correctly exercising them it can also reduce pain in other areas of our body. Whether your love to work out your legs or not, it is definitely worth taking the time to exercise them properly so that you can enjoy using them to their fullest for many years to come.

As always consult with a medical professional before any large changes to your exercise routine and stop if you encounter any pain. Prior to exercising also make sure to warm up.

For each exercise 8-12 repetitions or 45 seconds of work are recommended; whichever you prefer is fine.

Squats

Cues

-set your feet hip width apart with your toes slightly turned out. Adjust your turnout and foot placement to your comfort

-slowly sit back putting your weight through your heels, do not press forwards with your knees

-stop when your butt is in line with your knees or earlier if you feel uncomfortable

-straighten legs and return to starting position

 

Safety Cues

-make sure when performing this exercise that your knees track your toes. Our knees are hinge joints which mean that they are meant to “open and close” not rotate. Your knees should always point in the same direction that your toes are facing

-if you find yourself unbalanced during your squat try lifting your arms in front of you as you squat down

Ankle Circles

Cues

-lift one leg in the air. You can either lift your knee towards your chest or have your leg straight out in front of you

-begin making circles with the ankle of your raised leg. Make sure to visualize the circle you are drawing as this will help maintain your range of motion even as you fatigue.

-rotate your ankle in both directions before you switch to your other leg

Safety Cues

-if you have trouble with balance you can use a wall, counter, chair etc. for support. It can also help to pick one place in the room to look at.

-make sure to engage your core and keep upright

-if this movement causes you any pain in the ankle joint you can reduce your circle size or change the movement to pointing and flexing your toes

Heel/Calf Raises

Cues

-Shift weight onto balls of feet and slowly raise heels into the air

-hold at top,  slowly lower heels back to the ground

Safety Cues

-hold on to a chair or counter if you have troubles balancing

Backwards Lunges

Safety Cues

- only add weights when you feel comfortable with the exercise

-make sure you don't collapse your shoulders or upper body

- If you find your front knee moves forward try increasing the distance between your back toes and front heel and think of pushing your back knee down to the ground when you lunge

Cues

-stand tall with shoulders rolled back

-Bend your left knee and step your right foot back planting the toe behind you

-bend your right knee pushing it down towards the ground making sure not to push forwards with the left knee

-hold briefly at the bottom and then push back up

-from here you can either push off your right leg to bring your feet back together or go down for another lunge directly from your current position

-repeat on your other side

Deadlift

Cues

-put feet shoulder width apart with a slight bend in the knees

-roll your shoulders back and tighten your core

-lean forward by hinging at your hips and keeping your core engaged

-hold and squeeze your bum to come back up

-try on one leg if you need a challenge

Safety Cues

-if you are unsure if you are keeping your back straight during this exercise a good way to check is by doing the exercise in front of a mirror

Quad Stretch

Cues 

-stand tall and lift one foot up bringing it behind you

-reach same hand back to grab ankle or foot

-use your hand to gently bring your foot closer to your butt

-if you don't feel a stretch push back through your upper leg

Safety Cues

-hold onto something for support if needed

-make sure that you do not open your hips

-if this is too painful or too hard to balance you can try this stretch from a chair/floor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzMKJCf_7x8.

Hamstring/Calf Stretch 

Cues

-Pick up your foot and place your heel on the ground in front of you with toes flexed up

- Keep weight on back leg and bend back knee while pushing front heel into ground

 

Make sure to check out our beginner at home hip exercises and arm/shoulder exercises if you haven't already.

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