Stronger Muscles, Healthier Joints: 6 Exercises for Every Day and Every Body
Braun, Wendy, The Saturday Evening Post
STRONG MUSCLES--THE BODY'S PRIME movers and shakers-are also its critical shock absorbers, cushioning the lower back, hips, knees, and ankles from injury and arthritis. The No. 1 predictor of arthritic knees is weak thigh muscles, says Scott Hamersly, MSPT, a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist in Indianapolis, Indiana. He urges everyone to make a daily habit of the easy exercises shown below for healthier joints, overall fitness, and better balance.
"Most people don't realize that almost everything we do throughout the day-walking, getting in and out of a car, using the stairs--is on one leg," notes Hamersly. "Taking a couple minutes each day for balance and flexibility exercises pays off with better function and less pain--and it might even keep bone surgeons and physical therapists out of your life." Always use a sturdy chair, railing, or other nearby surface for support and safety.
1. Lift Off
Sitting on the edge of a firm chair or table, straighten knee by lifting foot out in front of you. Work up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions with each leg, once daily. Then, add weight to the ankle with a purse, bookbag, or 1-pound bag of rice or beans-even a grocery bag holding a gallon of milk. Strengthens the four large muscles on the front of the thigh.
2. Arch Up
Lay face-down on the floor or bed. Place hands near the shoulders and press up with your hands. Hold 5-10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times. …