Strong thighs make a wide range of activities easier, from jogging and cycling to gardening and housekeeping.
Standing squat using ball
This exercise is a variation of both the seated quadriceps exercise and a traditional squat. The standing squat using a small ball will help to strengthen the weaker section of the quadriceps, the medial part just above the knee joint. (If you do not have a small ball, you may also use a large rolled-up towel or an inflated balloon.)
1. To perform this drill, begin in an upright, tall position (shoulders back, chest lifted and abdominals in), with the ball between your knees and your feet hip-distance apart. Squeeze your buttocks tight to help ensure proper alignment of the knees and ankles with the hips. Squeeze the ball between your thighs (just slightly above the knee joint).
2. To initiate the squat, breathe in, bend at the hips, knees and ankles (imagining that you are sitting back into a chair or onto a bench) shifting your weight back into your hips and onto your heels while simultaneously squeezing the ball. Exhale slowly as you lower your hips down almost parallel with the ground and your arms out in front of you, chest lifted, shoulders relaxed and abdominals in to support and maintain correct spinal alignment. Pause briefly and inhale, then as you exhale, push up with your legs to return to a standing position, all the while squeezing the ball between your knees. Repeat 10 repetitions slowly.
3. Your body weight is providing the additional challenge in this exercise and squeezing the ball will help strengthen the weaker part of your quadriceps.
Repetitions and sets
Once you can perform 10 repetitions or are ready for additional challenge, repeat another 10 repetitions and progress to three sets of 10 repetitions. (If you are just starting out and feel as if you need a little extra support or balance, place a chair behind you so it will be there in case you need to sit and rest.)
All the activities that you enjoy doing but cause knee pain or discomfort will become easier and pain-free if you train using this exercise. As a physiotherapist, I have recommended and incorporated this drill into many of my programs and classes. Many aerobic exercises and pastimes, including walking, jogging, cycling, golf and gardening, rely on strong and balanced thigh strength and endurance.
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