Whether you are a professional athlete, hardcore bodybuilder, or just looking to boost your general fitness and well-being, no exercise is 100% free from risks. With these awesome lower body exercises, you can increase your strength, flexibility, and stamina to reduce the risk of injury. This way, you can work out harder and play longer without worrying about getting side-lined.
Lateral Band Walk
Brilliant for strengthening the hip muscles and keeping the abductors in good alignment, lateral band walks are every trainer’s favorite hip strengthener. This movement prevents the hip abductors from caving in or flaring and helps protect the knees by improving stability.
- Take a medium-tension mini-band (like the ones from Victorem) and wrap it around both legs just above the knees.
- Lower into a quarter squat.
- Take sideways steps in a single direction, keeping your toes facing forward and never allowing the legs to come together (keep tension on the band).
- Walk 10 steps in one direction, then switch. Repeat three sets.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
The glute bridge is a popular exercise for building a beautiful booty, but did you know it can also help prevent sports injuries too? This exercise builds stronger gluteal muscles (perfect if you sit at a desk all day and your lower back has got a little soft), activates the back muscles, and trains the hip and knee joints to face forward with better alignment.
- Lie on your back (ideally on a mat) with your arms by your sides.
- Bend one knee and place your foot as close to your butt as possible. Straighten the other leg.
- Press firmly into the foot by your butt and clench your glutes as you press your hips up towards the sky.
- Your raised knee, hips, and shoulders should form a straight (or as straight as possible) diagonal line.
- Hold your raised position for five beats, lower back to the floor and repeat ten more raises. Switch legs and repeat another ten reps.
- Complete three sets.
By building core strength and boosting the muscles and joints in your back, you’ll be less likely to risk injury on the pitch, court, or field… Or even just walking around! Planks might not be anyone’s favorite workout, but they really are one of the best.
- Place your forearms on the floor (ideally on a mat) with your elbows directly beneath the shoulders.
- Extend one leg straight back, resting on your toes. Follow with the second leg.
- Choose a focal point to look at between your hands, and press your arms firmly into the floor (engaging the shoulders).
- Activate the glutes by squeezing the butt for a more beneficial workout.
- Hold yourself in plank for as long as you can – up to one minute – then slowly lower to the ground by bending your knees and releasing the arms.
Bulgarian Split Squat
This movement is effectively a supported single-leg squat that is a highly effective way to reduce the risk of injury, no matter what physical activity you’re into. By working one side of the body at a time, this exercise can help correct any strength imbalances and improve your range of movement in both legs. It’s also an excellent exercise for strengthening the hip stabilizers, improving your balance, and building endurance.
Try to master the move with the correct form before adding weights or resistance bands.
- Stand around one stride away from a bench (a chair will also work), resting the toes of your back foot on it.
- Bend forward a little at the hips with your weight on the front foot.
- Bend both legs, bringing the knee of the front leg to around 90-degrees. Avoid the temptation to lean forward more as you bend your knees.
- Press into the heel of your front foot to come back to a standing position.
- Complete six reps on the first leg, then switch.
Other tips for avoiding injury when exercising
In addition to targeted exercises, there are a few other ways you can avoid lower body injuries:
- Wear proper clothing for the sport, exercise, or activity you have planned.
- Ensure your footwear is comfortable, fits properly, and is appropriate for your activity.
- Stay fit all year round – not just during sports seasons!
- Be sure to warm up and cool down every time.
- Respect injuries – seek medical advice before stretching an injured muscle or joint to ensure this is the best course of action.
Adding these strength and flexibility-building exercises to your regular workout will help ensure you can enjoy your favorite fitness classes or sports without causing injury to your lower body.
Whether you’re aiming to improve your tennis game, get more home runs, finally make quarterback, or just generally boost your health and fitness, these top tips are sure to help you reach your A-Game every time, free from pain or injury.
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