Weekend Challenge: Balance Enhancing Lower Body Strengthener
This weekend, we’re primarily targeting the glutes, the vital buttocks muscles that influence posture, pelvic strength, gait, balance, and much more. This exercise also works the hip abductors and legs.
Let’s begin by taking a look at why strong, well-developed buttocks are so important for bone health.
Regardless of what you call it – your bottom, derriere, backside, etc. – you might be tempted to think that the shape of your glutes is not a big deal. After all, if you aren’t interested in having “buns of steel,” why bother working these muscles?
The fact is, you need strong glutes for much more than a fit appearance. Here are some things to consider about the “bottom line.”
Your glutes are responsible for your ability to stand upright and walk. While other animals such as birds stand on two legs, they do not have glutes, nor do they walk with the distinctive human gait pattern that engages the glutes with every step.
Each time you swing your leg forward or back, whether while walking or doing some other activity, you’re using your glutes. You use them when you swing your leg outward, inward, and around in a circle; you use them to climb, run, jump, squat, step up and down stairs, and so on. You even use them when you’re just standing!
Therefore, if your glutes are weak, the above functions must be performed by other muscles, such as the psoas, quadratus lumborum in the lower back, and even the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are not meant to do the complex job of the glutes, but your body will compensate to keep you upright and walking.
Those compensatory muscles, then, can become hypertonic and painful. This is another reason why rock-hard muscles are not the main goal in exercising for bone health. Muscles that are too firm are not optimal; a healthy muscle should be able to relax as well as contract. When overworked, either through excessive exercise or by compensating, muscles can become too firm and enter a state of extreme tension, or hypertonicity.
It’s important to note as well that the glutes connect to the pelvis, so weak glutes can mean weak hip bones. Additionally, weak glutes can compromise your balance and gait, making you more prone to falls.
Today’s exercise targets this important muscle group, allowing your compensatory muscles to relax, strengthening your pelvic bones, and enhancing your balance. Here’s how to do it.
You’ll need an exercise mat for this move, which is done on the floor.
- Lie down on your right side with your back close to a wall. Bend your right leg so that your right foot is flat against the wall behind you.
- Extend your left leg out straight with your heel against the wall.
- Keeping your left heel pressed lightly against the wall and your knee straight, raise and lower your left leg. There’s no need to raise your leg very high; please see the animation for a visual guideline as to how high your leg should go.
- Repeat this raising and lowering of the left leg up to 30 times, depending on your comfort and fitness levels.
- Now switch sides and do the same exercise with your right leg.
No need to get up yet! You can stay on the floor for this previous Weekend Challenge that makes an excellent companion to this weekend’s:
Now if you’d like, continue with these upright challenges that also address the glutes, hips, and legs:
Pat yourself on the back – you’ve just completed an excellent set of exercises for your hips, thighs, and glutes. You’re welcome to move on to more bone-building exercises that address other areas of the body or save those for another day. It’s up to you!
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
At the Save Institute, we don’t take a “cookie cutter” approach to exercising for your bones. We know that everyone has different fitness levels, health histories, and bone-health goals. Our exercise programs are designed to equip you with the information you need to reach those goals in whatever way works for you.
Have a great weekend!