Your lower body starts at the belly button and goes down to the toes. This includes part of your stomach (abdominal) muscles and your hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles and feet.
At a Communities in Motion event in San Diego led by orthopaedic surgeons, Drs. Jennifer M. Weiss, Lisa K. Cannada and Nina Lightdale-Miric discussed the importance of strengthening the lower body and demonstrated simple exercises:
- Squats. Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also bend your elbows or clasp your fingers. Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Let your lower back arch slightly as you descend. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, with your knees over your ankles. Be mindful not to let your knees extend past your toes. Press your weight back into your heels. Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position. Start with three sets of 10 squats. Focus on your form. Add more repetitions as you get used to the motion.
- Lunges. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and grip one dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other and your arms straight down by your side. Keep your back straight and step forward with your right leg. As your right foot hits the floor, lower your left knee towards the floor. Descend to a comfortable range of motion; push your right foot into the ground to stand up by bringing both feet back together at the starting position. When performing this exercise, be mindful not to let your knee lunging forward extend past your toes. Repeat 10 times. Start with three sets of 10. Repeat these steps, this time stepping forward with your left leg.
Are you ready to get started? Tips on starting an exercise program from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00416