Weekend Challenge: The Squat Jack
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.
- Stand with your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees in a slight squat.
- Knees should be pointing forward, not out to the side. Also, make sure knees don’t go past the tips of your toes.
- 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.
- Jump up a little keeping your torso straight.
- Simultaneously, as you jump up, lower your arms so they’re parallel to your body.
- Land flat on your feet with your legs wider than shoulder width and knees slightly bent, as with a jumping jack.
- Get back to the starting position and repeat.
- 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,
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