Brought to you by Dr. Nancy Grieger, DPT, of Blue Skies Physical Therapy at Skydive Elsinore in California. Video of each exercise is available at youtube.com/skydiveuspa.
These exercises help strengthen the muscles in the ankles, core, back and foot that are vital for athletic performance. The exercises below are performed on a stable surface; future articles will cover them on unstable surfaces.
Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. If you have any questions about the exercises contained in this article, consult with a local certified professional or contact Dr. Nancy Grieger at (951) 894-9500 or through her website, blueskiesphysicaltherapy.com.
This exercise focuses on gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. You may perform this exercise using a pulley system or a resistance band (as shown).
Start by standing on the ends of the resistance band with one leg and loop the band around the other leg (the one you will kick back).
Position: Balance on the leg holding the bands down. Keep your knees unlocked and brace your core. To maintain your balance, initially keep your toes on the floor with the leg you will kick back with.
Action: Slowly kick back, controlling your leg and keeping the band around the foot. Squeeze your glute when your leg reaches the top, and slowly release as you bring the leg back.
Perform three sets of 10 for each leg.
This exercise not only increases hip strength, it helps improve your balance.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Hold a kettlebell, a barbell or two dumbbells down in front of you.
Position: Slightly bend the leg you will stand on while keeping your other leg behind you, using your toes to maintain balance.
Action: Lean forward at your hips, shifting your weight onto the front leg while your other leg begins engaging and starts to extend straight behind you. Lift your extended leg and pitch your body forward until your body forms a “T” shape. Your arms should hang straight down, holding onto the weight. Slowly bring in your extended leg and return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
Perform three sets of 10.
The lateral band-walking exercise is a perfect way to improve hip stability, strengthen the hip abductors (gluteus medius) and increase the stability of the knee joint. A strong gluteus medius not only stabilizes the hip but helps to maintain proper tracking in the knee joint—which is important for safety while landing—by reducing lateral stress on the knee.
Start: Keep the band flat and wrap it just above each ankle around both legs. Keep your feet hip-width apart and parallel with your knees slightly bent.
Position: Keep your feet in line with your hips and face forward with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet. Keep your hips level during the movement. Your back should be straight, not rounded.
Action: Step to the side, increasing tension on the band. Resist the band pulling your legs together and keep a consistent distance between the knees and feet. Take five steps in one direction then take five steps in the opposite direction. Do not turn around, and step evenly in both directions.
Perform 10 times.