Parts of the lower body such as knees, lower back, ankles and hips are prone to experience pains, so instead of taking medications, there are plenty of exercises you can do to strengthen your muscles and relieve the pain.
Weak and delicate things are prone to damage. This is true of your body too. If a muscle or tendon is not strong, it runs the risk of injury or damage. By strengthening your lower body, you reduce your risk of strains, sprains, tears, soreness and fractures.
Here are some strengthening exercises to help reduce pain and lower the risk of injury in your lower body.
1. Straight leg raises
A straight leg raise is ideal for strengthening the muscles in your quadriceps; the main muscle in the front of your thigh.
This is the muscle you work out when you do squats or sit down in a chair. To perform this exercise, find a flat surface, a bed, a yoga mat or on the floor and lay down on your back.
Bend one leg with your foot flat on the floor, while making sure the opposite leg is straight out; now lift that leg up and down, no lower than six inches to the ground.
Mind your back so as not to strain it. This exercise may be challenging, but it is building up your muscles while putting minimal strain on your knees.
2. Hamstring curls.
This exercise helps you strengthen…you guessed it, your hamstring, which is the thigh muscle between your hip and knee.
The same way you stretch your hamstring after exercising, it’s important to keep the muscles around your hamstrings strong. Curls can be done while laying on your stomach and bending your leg back towards your bottom. Hold the curl for a few seconds before extending and repeating again.
Those suffering from knee pain might find this exercise quite helpful over time as you build up your knees. This exercise will help strengthen the muscles around your knee, and doesn’t have to be on an unreasonably high surface; perhaps a low step in your house or a small study stool.
Do this exercise, practice stepping up with one leg, then lifting the other to meet at the top of the stair. Repeat the motion back down. You don’t have to rush, take your time. Make sure your form is clean and well-controlled, or you could hurt yourself.
4. Stretching exercises
Controlled, focused, and easy stretching will help your flexibility and will reduce the risk of injury. You may warm up the shower before getting in, or warm up your car engine on a cold day before driving.
Do the same with your body. “Warm” muscles that have stretched are less apt to be injured and will ensure flexibility. For lower back pain, stretching can keep the blood flowing to painful areas, and also keep you limber to allow for healing and further injury prevention.
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5. IT band stretch
While sitting, pick up your right foot and bend your right knee to cross your ankle over your left thigh. Hold your right knee in place to avoid any additional injury, but you should feel the stretch on the outer part of your leg, where your IT band runs.
6. Hip bridges
Hip bridges will not only help you stretch out your hips, but they also help loosen up tight muscles in your lower back that may be causing sciatica pain.
In this exercise, lay flat on your back and put your feet flat on the ground with your knees bend. The “bridge” is executed by lifting your hips and thrusting them forward. Hold the position as far as you can go, pause and slowly lower down to a flat back.
7. Child’s pose
This yoga-originated pose now goes beyond the yoga studio and can stretch those hard-to-reach muscles in your lower back. To begin, get on all fours and spread your knees open. Then, lean all the way back with your bottom until it is resting on your feet. Stretch your arms forward as if reaching for something.
8. Achilles stretching
Your Achilles tendon can be debilitating, but a simple stretch can alleviate pain and strengthen your tendon. Facing a wall, place your hands shoulder-width apart against the wall and stand with your body at an approximate 45-degree angle. Gently lift your heels, one at a time, to stretch the backs of your ankles.
If you are not yet strong or flexible enough to do these exercises, or if weight or balance is a problem, consider trying these exercises in a pool, where the resistance is more gentle on your body.
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