Next time you’re working out, or even when you’re just sitting/standing around with nothing to do at home, do a few variations of stability work to strengthen your ankles, core and supporting joints and muscles. Here are a few simple moves to try that can be held for as little as 5 seconds to 20 depending on how strong your stabilizers currently are. Even alternating just a few seconds from one side to another will help develop strength to build on over consistent time.
1. As seen in the photo, extending hands forward and hinging at the hips, lift one leg up and behind with a soft knee (if you can’t yet straighten your leg, a bent knee is just fine). You’ll feel your feet, ankle, knee and hips firing to stabilize you, your glute squeezing to elevate your leg, while your trunk region and core tighten to help you balance. You may find you can just comfortably elevate your leg a few seconds and a few inches to a foot off the ground – that is a great place to start and even more reason to be incorporating these movements into your week, if not day to day. Take note of how long you hold one side, then stand back up, readjust and repeat on the other side for the same duration. Repeat 2-3 x.
2. Standing upright, hands on hips, lift up to tippy-toes engaging ankles and calves for a set of 10-15, repeating 2-3x. If you are comfortable, slightly lift one foot off the ground, and perform a set of 10-15 each leg. If you’re feeling extra comfortable with that, elevate the resting leg to knee height, really drawing in the core and squeezing that standing leg’s calf at the top of the movement.
3. Alternating lunges. Although more of a taxing exercise movement, your stabilizers are definitely put to work when performing alternating forward or backward lunges. Standing upright in place, take one big step backwards or forwards into a slow and controlled lunge position, pushing back off through the foot and calf to the starting position and repeating to the other side. Complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 each leg.
Stabilizer work has been something I’ve incorporated in my clients’ (and my own) regimens for over a decade, and I believe stability to be a key component in longterm strength for everyday living. We’ve all heard stories of people who slip and fall from weak muscles, joints, or what have you, and something that can really help aid in avoiding these accidents is a fit and able body with strong stabilizers to help us catch our balance when we get thrown off kilter (and it happens- especially for those of us who are… less graceful).
If you enjoyed this, pass it on to those who might benefit and leave your comments below! I love hearing from you.
And for those interested, read my blog post titled, "What I'm Wearing + Where Fitness Started For Me" for a sweet discount on Iron Lily performance gear like the leggings I'm wearing here. Photo credit to our good friend and gifted photo/videographer at WeddingHousePhotography.com (he's a beast at wedding video and photo so I'm shamelessly bragging on him in case you or someone you know needs a reliable and very talented referral). Shoes by Puma.
Keep it moving,
Kelsey Lee (did you know Lee is my middle name? I know, shocking for the stereotype’rs!)