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Weekend Challenge: The Squat Jack

weekend-challenge

Today I’m thrilled to bring you the Squat Jack, a very effective exercise that targets your ankles while also strengthening your feet and hips. This is really important because studies have shown that over the past three decades, ankle fractures, especially in women over 60, have tripled.1

The Squat Jack combines elements of both jumping jacks and squats. Besides strengthening your ankles and all the delicate bones and joints around that area, this exercise also improves your balance, preventing falls that are the most typical cause of ankle fractures.

Why: Ankle fractures among older adults are quite common, even among those who do not have osteoporosis. As mentioned earlier, the overall incidence and severity of ankle fractures has increased over the last 30 years, and it’s continuing to steadily rise.

One of the main reasons for such an increase is faulty balance. While an ankle fracture may not sound like such a big deal as compared to a hip fracture, it can still take weeks to heel.

That’s because the ankle is really a complex structure, although it seems quite simple. Your lower leg bones, the fibula and tibia (your shin bone), meet the talus or ankle bone, creating the ankle joint. Like the wrist, the ankle’s flexibility and range of motion is a trade-off for stability.

The ends of the tibia and fibula (called the epiphysis) are covered with smooth cartilage, and they are encapsulated by the synovial membrane cavity. Fluid-filled sacs called bursa are located between the ankle bones, and flexors on top of the foot and ligaments in the ankle connect all the bones.

This makes for a highly articulated joint that actually takes quite a bit of force. Consider this: your ankles have to bear one and a half times your body weight when you walk, and running or jumping requires your ankles to sustain forces of more than 3 or 4 times your body weight. Your ankle joints really take a pounding!

The Squat Jack aims to increase bone strength and density in the ankle by applying appropriate force to key areas of the joint. In addition, the moves strengthen hips and feet, which are also important focal points for fracture avoidance.

Hips, feet, and ankles are all involved in balance, too, which is absolutely crucial for avoiding falls.

How: No special equipment is required for The Squat Jack. Just make sure you wear comfortable running or walking shoes, as this exercise involves your feet and legs in motion.

  1. Stand with your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees in a slight squat.
  3. Knees should be pointing forward, not out to the side. Also, make sure knees don’t go past the tips of your toes.
  4. Bring your arms forward, bending your elbows and making a fist with your hands with thumbs facing up. Your hands should be held in front of you at chest level.
  5. Jump up a little keeping your torso straight.
  6. Simultaneously, as you jump up, lower your arms so they’re parallel to your body.
  7. Land flat on your feet with your legs wider than shoulder width and knees slightly bent, as with a jumping jack.
  8. Get back to the starting position and repeat.
  9. Do 3 sets of 10 or as many as you comfortably can.

Many Savers have asked if the exercises I share with you as part of the weekend challenges are taken from Densercise™. They’re not. Densercise™ is a complete training system featuring 52 moves that are specifically designed to work together to increase your bone density, tone your muscles and improve your balance. Plus Densercise™ takes advantage of the Epidensity training methodology so you’ll get fast bone-building results regardless of your fitness level. While the Weekend Challenges are a great way to keep you motivated to exercise for your bones, they’re not part of a comprehensive bone-building system.

Please share your exercise and Densercise™ experience with the community by leaving a comment below. I enjoy your feedback and success stories!

Enjoy the weekend,

References

1 Kannus P, Palvanen M, Niemi S, Parkkari J, Järvinen M. Increasing number and incidence of low-trauma ankle fractures in elderly people: Finnish statistics during 1970-2000 and projections for the future. Bone 2002;31:430-3 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12231418

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24 comments. Leave Yours Now →

  1. Patrick Vermaaten September 6, 2014, 4:29 am

    Do you have a hard copy of your densersizer book avable?

  2. Fred Middleton June 3, 2014, 9:24 pm

    The jack squat looks like an excellent exercise Vivian but I question the “land flat on your feet” part. If one were to take that literally it would cause undue stress to knees and other body parts.

    On another note, thanks for all the sensible information – I’m a big fan (and a saver).

  3. Marg May 31, 2014, 8:42 pm

    My bone density has been steadily declining over the past 26 years and for short times I have taken Didrocal and later Fosamax. However I feel very strongly about taking any sorts of drugs and am now attending an accupuncturist who has told me to take a good calcium each morning, containing horsetail and boron which helps the body absorb the calcium and also to have a teaspoon of gelatine, a teaspoon of honey and a little milk ( I use home made almond milk) in a cup of hot water daily, which should help eventually build up my bone density. Has anyone had any success with this? I am trusting it to work because my lumber spine t- score is now minus 4.5 which is terrifying. The doctor keeps telling me that I will break something soon and bisphosphonates are the only thing that will help.
    Perhaps you have some information on this Vivian?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 2, 2014, 10:17 am

      Marg, all the information you need is available to you in the Save Our Bones Program and on this site! Building bone density without drugs is what we’re all about. :)

      • Marg June 3, 2014, 7:14 am

        Thank you for taking the time to reply Vivian. I have the Save Your Bones programme which I purchased a couple of years ago. I was just inquiring about the gelatine as I don’t recall seeing any info on it on your site or in your book.
        Also I was wondering if anyone else had taken gelatine for any length of time.

        • joy markman June 3, 2014, 12:00 pm

          I try & eat Patcha ( which is a jewish dish made with the hooves of beef – kosher) or you could boil up some bones for yourself with seasoning & use as a stock for soup or dishes. Bones all contain gelatine, which is good for you.

          • Marg June 4, 2014, 8:11 am

            Thank you Joy for taking the time to post an answer. I appreciate your comments.
            Kind regards

  4. Marlene Douglas May 31, 2014, 7:05 pm

    Dear Vivian,

    Hello from Australia – thank you for your informative emails with such valuable information. Both my husband and I have osteoporosis and have stopped taking medication for it. I began on Fosamax but gaave it up after I had a dental issue and the dentist would not treat it and sent me to a dental surgeon – he now tells me that if he has a patient who requires an extraction he sends them to hospital if they are on Fosamax. We were both on Protox but it did not agree with either of us so we are now doing the best we can with diet and exercise. We were interested in your advise re the marine based calcium suppliment but could not find it in Australia. However, we now have one called Green Calcium which comes from Ireland but is packed here. It contains a marine plant Lithothamnium calcareum rich in calcium, magnesium and 72 other trace minerals. It has 3.2mg strontium per dose as well as selenium 1.7mcg, boron 24mcg, and iodine 53mcg. We would be grateful to hear your opinion re the amounts of thes trace minerals. Thank you for your continued support.

    Marlene

    • Brittha May 31, 2014, 11:23 pm

      Dear Marlene
      I am fron NSW and would love to know where you get your green calcium from here in oz .many thanks brittha

  5. Louise DiSclafani May 31, 2014, 5:10 pm

    I’ve liked most of your weekend challenges and do some of them along with my TAI CHI and some pilates. I’ve had some issues with jumping type squats but as I’m doing TAI CHI I do find my knees getting stronger. So I’ll definitely keep this one and check it out. Thanks for all your good work with this weekend challenge of exercises and all you programs!

  6. Sally Kneifel May 31, 2014, 3:08 pm

    Dear Vivian,

    I have enjoy learning from you and sharing with my husband. He is 85, and I am 82.
    Both in relatively good health when we compare ourselves with others up in years. Both of us are challenged with our bones. My husband has serious curvature of his upper back which has gotten worse over the years, with accompanying pain in the lower part of his spine (he had two episodes of broken vertebrae). For myself 2 1/2 years ago I had a stroke with no after effects except I fell and crushed two bones in my ankle. A three hour surgery put my ankle together and with lots of physical therapy, chiropractic treatments and stretching/exercises from you , I no longer have any pain. However, both my husband and I have NO cartilage in both knees. Because of difficulty with stairs and standing for periods, there is pain involved. The side effect is muscle loss in our legs. We cannot do squats, even minor bends without grinding in the knees. We both have been for years on organic everything, including meat for our dog. We also no longer take calcium, but cannot eat leafy greens or take Vit. K before we are both on blood thinners from Atrial Fib. This is very discouraging. We workout at the gym 3 times a week, and are fighting to enjoy our life now and in years to come. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you so much for all the good you are doing for humanity. Blessings to you, Sally Kneifel P.S. I love your recipes, use them a lot.

  7. Judy May 31, 2014, 12:20 pm

    Since I recently had to have total hip replacement on one side, how would you modify these and your Densersize exercises.
    I am told not to run, and concerned about impact.

    • Andrea May 31, 2014, 1:32 pm

      I also, have had total hip replacement and must eliminate all jumping and running activities. However, once you get in the habit, there are numerous modifications for most conventional exercises as well as some hard work in the garden, rousing dance routines, riding your bike around the neighborhood, etc. All of these activities, and many others, will strengthen your ankles.
      I have discovered an effective modification for today’s exercise, but I believe it appropriate to let Vivian handle advice regarding modifications on the exercises she presents to us.
      Best regards and good health to everyone.
      Sincerely,
      Andrea

  8. Marlene Villar May 31, 2014, 9:31 am

    Dear Vivian,
    Thank you very much Vivian for this encouraging e-mail. I tried this
    exercise before but I was not consistent in doing it
    I truly appreciated your passion in helping us . Thank you.
    May GOD bless you abundantly. Take care always, Marlene

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 31, 2014, 12:20 pm

      Thank you so much, Marlene! I am glad you’re inspired to continue with this exercise. :)

  9. irene May 31, 2014, 7:40 am

    These are great. I live in Florida so in the warmer months I do not walk
    outside with my vest. I stay indoors and use weights. Your pictures and directions are great. Thank you.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 31, 2014, 8:15 am

      I am glad this exercise works for you, Irene! Most of the Weekend Challenges can be done indoors or out. :)

  10. Candace May 31, 2014, 3:56 am

    Hi, i love the exercises. Are these all in the book or new….I have downloaded the book and all other info but it is all in a box as we have been redoing the apartment. I would like to have a schedule for doing these in a correct order and for the days of the week.
    Thank you, Candy

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 31, 2014, 6:47 am

      Candy, the Weekend Challenges are not in Densercise or the Program. They are extras! :) But Densercise includes exercises like this and many, many more. And it’s laid out in an easy-to-follow, daily and weekly regimen. You can learn more here:

      http://saveourbones.com/densercise/

  11. marianne May 31, 2014, 3:52 am

    do you have a modified version for someone who has arthritic knees? This sounds like it might hurt my knees. Thank you. I really appreciate how clear & detailed the directions to these exercises are.

    • Sylvia May 31, 2014, 9:28 am

      Do you have access to a pool? The last time I was in the pool I tried some jumping from standing on the bottom position and it worked quite well.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 31, 2014, 6:45 am

      Hi Marianne,
      Arthritic knees can make certain movements quite painful! Only you know your body and what hurts and what doesn’t, so you may prefer to simply skip this one. :)

  12. Jo Getter May 31, 2014, 3:10 am

    Vivian, I just want to thank you so much for all the wonderful and informative emails you send out! I really appreciate receiving them and I REALLY appreciate you!
    XOXOXOXOX

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 31, 2014, 6:43 am

      What encouraging words that brighten my weekend, Jo! You’re welcome, and keep learning. :)

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The purpose of this comment section is to encourage you to interact with the rest of the Save Our Bones Community. Thank you so much for joining the conversation!

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