Weekend Challenge: Isometric Femur Builder

This weekend’s challenge is an isometric exercise that works the thigh muscles to build density in the femur, which is especially important for anyone who’s ever taken bisphosphonates and for those suffering from knee pain.

Knee pain is, unfortunately, quite common, especially among older adults. But research shows that strengthening the thigh muscles brings relief of knee pain, even if it’s caused by osteoarthritis.

So in addition to bone-building benefits, the Isometric Femur Builder offers pain relief, too. Let’s begin!

Why:

Atypical femur fractures are a troublesome side effect of bisphosphonates like Fosamax and Reclast. Ample research points to the fact that these drugs weaken and destroy bone quality, so if you’ve ever taken them, exercises that strengthen the thighs are of particular importance.

The Isometric Femur Builder also strengthens the pelvis by working the buttocks. Pelvic strength is key for older adults, who suffer hip fractures far more commonly than younger people.

Below are the main muscle groups that build up these vital areas of the skeleton.

Quadriceps

These are at the front of your thigh, and as the name implies, there are four muscles in this group: the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and vastus intermedius. Generally, people are most familiar with the rectus femoris, because it’s in the center top of the thigh. It’s also the primary “quad” that gets used in today’s challenge.

The rectus femoris originates at the pelvis and attaches at the base of the kneecap, or patella. It’s a hip flexor and knee extender, and it works antagonistically with the hamstrings, which we are going to look at next.

Hamstrings

This oddly named muscle group gets its name for the tendons that attach them to your bones. A “ham” refers to the thigh muscles of a pig, and the “strings” refer to the tendons by which butchers would hang the hams. Hence the name hamstring, which got applied to the muscles in the back of the thigh. You use your hamstrings for bending your knee and extending your leg. They work in opposition to the quads.

Gluteus maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, and is the main extensor of your hip. It’s the most superficial of the three “glutes,” so it’s the muscle that forms the main shape of your buttocks and hips. It attaches to the upper ilium of the pelvis, the sacrum, coccyx, and tailbone, so it plays a key role in pelvic and lower back stability.

How:

For the Isometric Femur Builder, you’ll need a flat wall or door. If you have never done this kind of move before and you are unsure of your thigh muscle strength, you might want to do this near a chair or bookshelf in case you need help standing back up.

  1. Stand with your back flat against the wall and your arms straight out in front of you, palms down. Your feet should be placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keeping your back straight and your arms out, slowly bend your knees and “slide” down the wall.
  3. Stop when your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds, or for as long as you can.
  5. Stand back up again, put your arms down, rest for a few seconds, and then repeat three to five times.
    1. You’ll definitely feel the burn in your upper thighs with this exercise! But it’s well worth it, because exercises of this type, including other Weekend Challenges like the Hip, Glutes, And Femur Strengthener and the Whole Leg And Back Strengthener, have been shown to relieve knee pain. Sadly, this symptom is common in elderly people according to a Korean study, in which knee pain prevalence among the elderly was reviewed.

      Five hundred and four participants over the age of 50 were evaluated, and nearly half of all the volunteers (32.2% of the men and 58% of the women for an average of 46.2%) experienced knee pain upon using the knee joints for walking, chair stands, and similar exercises.1

      The scientists also found that overall performance was greatly affected by the presence of knee pain, noting that:

      “Subjects with knee pain had worse physical performance score compared to those without knee pain…”1

      The researchers took the presence of osteoarthritis into account as well, pointing out that even independent of knee arthritis, participants were five times more likely to belong to the “worst lower extremity function”1 category.

      This sets up a negative cycle whereby pain decreases performance and discourages you from exercising.

      To Break The Knee Pain Cycle, More Exercise Is The Key!

      According to a Canadian study, exercise relieves knee pain even in the presence of osteoarthritis.

      After noting that “Knee osteoarthritis is a major contributor to disability in seniors, and patients have expressed concern that continued exercise might lead to knee symptoms in later years,”2 scientists reviewed an extensive amount of data from a wide range of sources.

      They found ample evidence that exercise enhanced the physical functioning of those with osteoarthritis of the knee, leading them to conclude that:

      “Provided trauma is avoided, moderate exercise does not lead to acceleration of knee osteoarthritis, whether or not there is evidence of pre-existing disease. In either case there appears to be improved physical functioning and reduction of pain and disability in those who exercise.”2 [emphasis added]

      I’d like to add that severe knee pain should be evaluated by a physical therapist or doctor, because if exercise really hurts, you should stop. But for those who know that osteoarthritis is causing their knee pain, appropriate exercise can really help functionality, range of motion, and pain.

      You’ll find several knee-bending exercises in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System to suit all ability levels. For example, the Chair Knee Lift (page 38) and the Mountain Pose to Chair Pose (page 31) are both low impact exercises. For more vigorous knee exercise, there’s the Parade March (page 18) and the One Step Jump (page 33).

      So don’t let knee pain keep you down! With Densercise™, you’re sure to find a variety of moves to strengthen your thighs and prevent or get rid of knee pain.

      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.

      Learn More Now →

      Till next time,

      References

      1 Kim, In Je, et al. “Prevalence of Knee Pain and Its Influence on Quality of Life and Physical Function in the Korean Elderly Population: A Community Based Cross-Sectional Study.” Journal of Korean Medical Science. 26. 9. (2011): 1140-1146. Web. August 4, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3172649/

      2 Bosomworth, Neil J., MD, CCFP, FCFP. “Exercise and knee oateoarthritis: benefit or hazard?” Canadian Family Physician. 55. 9. (2009): 871-878. Web. August 4, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2743580/ density

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13 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Linda August 7, 2016, 4:37 pm

    I had a hip replacement last year. Among others, my surgeon wanted me to do a certain exercise to help the hip heal correctly and it is great!!!

    You need a stretchy red rubber therapy band. Put the band around your closed legs in the knee cap area then make a knot so it fits snuggley around the knee cap area. With it knotted, drop the band to around your ankles. Then take a step to the right direction for 13 steps then reverse the direction going back to the original position.

    Do this twice, the back and forth motion.

    I do this daily and I am happily surprised at my legs. They are much more toned and better in appearance. I like how it tones the legs and are much better in appearance. Happy walking.

  2. Tina August 6, 2016, 10:09 pm

    I was wondering what do you do about detoxing

  3. kathleen August 6, 2016, 8:09 pm

    As the result of an unfortunate fall and the Dr. dropping my leg in the OR at 2nd surgery, I am in a wheelchair with a straight right leg. I cannot bend my right knee.
    I can walk with a walker but cannot totally bear weight on the right leg. I am always
    looking for exercises to strengthen the right leg. Do you or any readers have ideas?
    I cannot drive (rt leg straight) and cannot go outside to walk without assistance down some stairs. I do walk around the house-but it is not enough. Any ideas?
    Thank you !

  4. Denna Millard August 6, 2016, 11:59 am

    Boy, this one I would think would be a good one for ms folks. Looks like it would help with strength and balance. Thanks

  5. Roland Ledet August 6, 2016, 7:32 am

    I am 81 yrs old and a polio victim from 1939, I wear a leg brace on my left leg from my hip down to my foot. That prevents me from performing some of the exercises, I do walk about 30 minutes a day with the help of a walker. I had back surgery 3 yrs ago and they fixed a disc problem it left me in pain and my bones started deteriorating from lack of activity and my diet went south when my wife died. So I refused the forteo injection and I just quit on the alendronate so now I am in a bone building mode. I am taking the vitamins K2 D3 and I am going to get a calcium supplement from my doctor. I am also checking my PH daily and in the last 2 weeks I have been good at 7.25 except for 2 days and I know what caused that. I really appreciate this website and will follow as much as I can. Thanks

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA August 6, 2016, 10:52 am

      Hi Roland,

      You have a great attitude – I love how you’re simply moving forward into “bone-building mode.” Please continue to visit the site for inspiration…and keep inspiring others!

  6. Exerciser August 6, 2016, 7:20 am

    A better and safer exercise to strengthen the thigh muscles which won’t strain the knees, back/spine and risk falling is to sit or lay in a mat with legs out and lift the leg off the ground for a few seconds. Do sets of 10, as many as you can, but work up to it slowly- maybe begin with 1-3. You can also add ankle weights to increase the effects.

  7. ken August 6, 2016, 4:26 am

    this is a good exercise and one I did 60 years ago at the start of skiing season – the rule was until you could hold the pose for 3 min you were not ready to sky safely. So thank you for reminding me about this fine isometric femur and I go for the burn!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA August 6, 2016, 10:49 am

      That makes a lot of sense, Ken! Here is another challenge to help get you ready for skiing season:

      https://saveourbones.com/weekend-challenge-hip-bone-rejuvenator/

    • Bilbos August 6, 2016, 7:48 am

      I HAVE PAIN AT THE TOP OF BOTH ILLIUM AND CAUSES HAMS TO CRAMP. i WEAR A COPPER FIT BACK BRACE AND USE ICE DURING DAY AND NIGHT BUT JUST WONT GET BACK TO NORMAL. I WALK 30 MINUTE 3 – 4 TIMES A WEEK NOW WALKING IN A CIRCLE WATER POOL (LAZY RIVER) IT FEELS NORMAL FOR 1 – 3 HOURS THEN PAIN RESUMES.

      • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA August 6, 2016, 10:50 am

        I am sorry you’re experiencing pain, Bilbos. I hope you have a good physical therapist or chiropractor you can go to in order to find the source of the pain!

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