This weekend’s challenge strengthens the muscles in the hip, buttocks, and quadriceps. It helps stabilize the pelvis, lower back, and knees, making it ideal for targeting low bone density in the hips and femur bones, aligning the knee joints, and promoting strong glutes and better balance.
The Hip, Glutes And Femur Strengthener looks easy, but I can tell you that after a few reps, I could really feel the muscles working!
So let’s get started!
The pelvis and femur bones are key areas where fractures can be painful and detrimental. Exercises like the Hip, Glutes And Femur Strengthener focus on building density in these important areas.
Here’s a closer look at the muscle groups that are worked by today’s challenge.
- The glutes are your buttocks muscles, and in our modern world where people do more sitting than walking, these large muscles tend to weaken and atrophy. As you’ll see, the forward and backward motion of your leg in the Hip, Glutes And Femur Strengthener homes in on the buttocks to tone and strengthen them.
Strong glutes promote good balance and a strong gait, and they are vital for a stabilized pelvis.
- The femur is the bone in your thighs, and is very strong. However, they have a couple of vulnerable points: where it helps form the knee joint (more on that below), and where it joins the pelvis.
Femur fractures tend to occur at the femoral neck, a “bridge” of bone that connects the top of the femur to the head, or ball, which then fits into the hip socket. Today’s exercise works the muscles around this joint, but without impact, so it’s excellent for stabilizing and aligning the joint. And of course, the pressure of muscle on bone stimulates bone growth.
- The quadriceps are often used to refer to all the muscles of the thigh; but in actuality, the quads are just one muscle group in the thigh. The quads are made up of four muscles: the rectus femoris (in the center), the vastus medialis (toward the inner thigh), the vastus lateralis (outer thigh), and the vastus intermedius which lies beneath the rectus femoris.
These four muscles attach at the base of the femur where it joins the patella, or knee cap, at the patellofemoral joint.
This is why strong quads are associated with healthy knees. In fact, recent research using MRI technology clarifies what x-ray-based studies were only able to indicate before:
“…stronger quadriceps were shown to protect against cartilage loss in the lateral compartment (outer part) of the patellofemoral joint, a site of frequent cartilage loss, pain and disability in patients with knee [osteoarthritis]. The study also showed that those with the greatest quadriceps strength had less knee pain and better physical function than those with the least strength.”1
While the quadriceps end at the knee, the center quad (the rectus femurs) begins at the ilium, the wing-shaped bone that is the largest one in the pelvis. So it’s a key player in pelvic stabilization and density.
The other three quads originate in various places on the femur, making them important muscles for increasing femoral density and strength. This is vitally important if you want to avoid atypical femur fractures – a disturbing side effect of the most popular osteoporosis drugs, bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, Boniva and Actonel (to mention a few).
Now let’s get to the “how” of today’s challenge!
How: I suggest you perform this exercise near a chair or other stable object, so you can catch it if you lose your balance – especially the first time.
- Stand with one knee bent over your toes (but not beyond).
- The other leg should be extended slightly behind you, knee bent, heel off the floor. Most of your weight will be on the front leg.
- Keep the front leg bent at the same angle while you bring the back leg forward to align with the stable leg.
- Lightly touch the floor with your toes, then bring the leg back to the starting position behind you.
- Repeat this forward and back motion 10 times (or as many as you feel comfortable doing), swinging your opposite arms gently along with the leg motion.
- Switch sides and work the other leg.
You’ll find that the glute in the stable leg is the one that “feels the burn” the most.
A good follow-up to this exercise is the Femur Strengthener And Coordination Enhancer, which works the same muscle groups using different moves.
Practice the Hip, Glutes And Femur Strengthener Often, Especially If You’ve Taken Bisphosphonates
Most bone fractures occur with some sort of force or trauma – high impact, for example, or an unnatural bend or twist. But atypical fractures occur spontaneously, without any trauma or unusual stress to the bone.
As mentioned earlier, atypical femur fractures are the most ironic side effect of bisphosphonates. That’s because these drugs suppress bone turnover, which is how they appear to increase bone density. The problem, of course, is that bone turnover is vital for the health of your bones, and the “over-suppression” of healthful turnover results in brittle, hard bones that may appear denser in a bone scan, but are more prone to breakage.
With a variety of targeted exercise along with pH-balanced nutrition, you have plenty of “weapons” at your disposal to fight osteoporosis. There is simply no need to fall for the Establishment’s view that drugs are some sort of “miracle cure” you can’t do without.
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I love to hear how the Weekend Challenges are going for the community. Please feel free to leave a comment below about today’s challenge!
Enjoy the weekend!
1 Amin, Shreyasee, et al. “Quadriceps strength and the risk of cartilage loss and symptom progression in knee osteoarthritis.” Arthritis & Rheumatology. 2009; 60 (1): 189 DOI: 10.1002/art.24182. Web. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.24182/abstract