Regular workout is useful to stay fit and maintain strong joints and muscles. But if you are looking at specific exercises to strengthen the hips and legs, you need something more. Hips and knee stabilization exercises are great to have strong hips and tone-up legs.
Hip and Knee Stabilization Exercises
The knee and hip joint lose their integrity, strength and stability due to age, injury or illness. Certain exercises can help in regaining the lost strength and stability and also prevent future injuries. The abductors and adductors should be exercised regularly because these are vital for providing integrity to the hip joint and creating a strong, balanced link between the torso and lower body.
The muscles of the hips and knees also need to be exercised with an entire range of motion. If they are worked in a single direction, i.e. either forward or backward, by walking, running or using regular cardio machines, the movements do not prove helpful in building structural integrity of the hip or the lower body. These muscles, along with the quads and hamstrings, are important for allowing the kneecap track properly when the knee joint bends. If the adductor and abductor muscles are not strong, balanced and flexible, knee pain like patellofemoral syndrome and injury are more likely to occur.
This is where hip and knee stabilization exercises play a very important role. If not, then its time you start to. These include some exercises which challenge and improve the overall strength, stability and balance using the body or a variety of training aids.
Here are some of the most effective hip and knee stabilization exercises:
This is a basic glute medius strengthening, simple Pilates move but it one of the most effective hip and knee stabilization exercises. It mainly targets the hips, thighs and glutes, enhances pelvic, leg and shoulder stability, and helps to maintain the hip integrity.
For doing this exercise, one needs to lie on their right side with their feet and hips sacked and knees bent at 90° angle, and the head resting on the right arm. The knees should then be drawn in towards the body until the feet and hips are aligned, and the left hand should be placed on the left hip. This is the starting position. Then, while keeping the abs engaged and the feet together, the individual should raise their left knee as far as possible without rotating their hip or lifting their right knee off the ground. This posture should be held for 1 second, while squeezing the glutes at the top of the move, before gradually lowering the left knee to the starting position. This movement should be performed 5 times on one side, before switching to the other side.
Also known as hip raise, bridge exercise is an effective move for strengthening the gluteus muscles, hamstrings, core, abdominal and lower back muscles. It stretches and works the stabilizers of the posterior chain and also helps in maintaining the stability of the knee, legs, spine and quadriceps. While this is one of the best hip and knee stabilization exercises, it also helps to strengthen the back.
For performing this exercise, the individual needs to lie on their back with their hands by their sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. Then, while tightening the buttocks and abdominal muscles, the performer needs to raise their hips up to align their knees with their shoulders. They should squeeze the core and try pulling the belly button back towards the spine. The body should be lowered back on the floor when the hips start sagging or dropping down. One should initially try holding the bridge position for a few seconds and then gradually increase the duration. 2 sets, each of 10 repetitions, should be performed for deriving maximum benefits. To increase the intensity of this exercise, the individual can try doing one-leg bridge.
A great exercise for strengthening the core, plank exercise also helps in making the spine, pelvis and shoulder girdles stronger. Strengthening the hips can help to reduce many common knee injuries and lower-leg pain, especially in runners. Plank exercise is a great hip and knee stabilization exercise that improves the overall stability and body balance, and helps to torch extra calories too.
To do this exercise one should start by lowering their forearms to the floor, with their elbows positioned under their shoulders, with hands shoulder-width apart. The arms should form a 90° angle. The feet should be stepped back one at a time and a straight line from, heels through the top of the head, should be maintained. The performer should keep looking down at the floor, with their gaze slightly in front of their face. The abs should then be tightened and this position should initially be held for at least 10 second, with the duration being worked up gradually. Side plank, plank with leg lift, bench plank with knee bent are tougher variations of the classic plank. These can be done after mastering the basic plank exercise.
Lunges too, add to the list of best hip and knee stabilization exercises that help to strengthen the hips and legs.
To perform basic lunges, one should stand with their feet shoulder width apart. They can also stand to the side of a chair while holding onto its back with one hand. They should step one foot forward while keeping the other feet at the back. Then the back knee should be dropped towards the floor, and the front knee kept over ankle.
The performer should then return to the starting position. This movement should be continued for at least 10 steps, and 2 sets of the exercise should be done for best results. Lunge with a twist, overhead lunge and walking lunge are advanced forms of this exercise which can be done once the classic version becomes easy.
This exercise engages multiple muscles at the same time and is one of the best movements for strengthening the lower body and improving the overall stability. Squats perfectly work the quads, knees, hamstrings, glutes and core and are considered as one of the best hip and knee stabilization exercises.
To perform this exercise, one needs to stand tall with their feet hip distance apart, and their hips, knees, and toes all facing forward. The individual should then bend their knees and extend their buttocks backward, like they were about to sit back on a chair. They should make sure that their knees are placed behind the toes and the weight in their heels. After this, the performer should rise back up and repeat the move as many times as they like. One-leg squat and reach, is a more advanced version of the classic squat.
Word of Advice
One should always consult a medical expert before beginning with any exercise program. If extreme pain or any unfavorable symptoms are experienced while working out, exercises should be stopped immediately.
People with knee pain, injuries or other joint problems, must follow medical advice and physical therapy before progressing to these exercises. Some of these hip and knee stabilization exercises are actually useful for hip and knee problems. But they must be done only after basic therapeutic exercises and under medical guidance.
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