4 Exercises to Strengthen Your Lower Legs

We use our lower leg muscles—including our calves, ankles and feet—on a constant basis. But how much time do we spend making sure our lower legs are working properly?

Whether it's going up the stairs, driving a car or running around the block, we use our lower leg muscles to help us walk, stand and stay balanced. So, it's important that we treat our legs right and keep them in optimum shape.

Lower Legs and Sports

In addition to a variety of daily activities, our calves, ankles and feet are often an integral part of sports play. For example, there is a large amount of running required in football. Even short distances and quick motions impact a player's lower legs, as they plant their feet, push off and change directions frequently.

In hockey and figure skating, a lot of stress is placed on this area, as players totter on skates across an unstable surface. In baseball and golf, players use their lower leg muscles to swing their bodies around by planting their feet and rotating through their trunk.

As with all parts of the body, the lower legs do not work on their own and their strength and abilities attribute to overall sports and routine performance.

Foot Box Exercises

To maintain and strengthen your lower leg muscles, consider a series of exercises that work out a number of muscles by moving the foot in a box formation. Some people also refer to it as the "motion box." (NOTE: Do not go to the point of pain or cramping during any exercise.):

Starting Position: Lie on your back. Place one knee at a 45-degree angle.

For each exercise: Hold the position for six seconds.

Repeat six times on each side, resting for a few seconds in between sets. Increase the amount of force used with each set.

Down and In

Place entire foot firmly down.

Rotate foot inward, making sure foot stays flat. (You should feel the muscle contracting in the back of the lower leg.)

Up and In

Keep heel on the floor, lifting the rest of foot up as high as possible.

Curl toes while rotating foot inward. (You should feel the muscle contracting on the front of the lower leg.)

Up and Out

Keep heel on the floor, lifting the rest of foot up as high as possible.

Curl toes while rotating foot outward. (You should feel the muscle contracting on the outside of the lower leg.)

Down and Out

Place entire foot firmly down.

Rotate foot outward, making sure foot stays flat. (You should feel the muscle contracting on the outside of the lower leg.)

Exercising the lower legs, especially the feet, can be incredibly complex. You may want to have
a Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) specialist help you with these exercises.

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