Correct Your Lower Body: Progressive Posture Alignment, Part 4

Maryann Berry

Coach

Strength and Conditioning, Mobility & Recovery

Welcome to week four of my four-week program for better posture and alignment. This week, we focus on the lower extremities.

 

Miss a week? Click to jump to it:

 

 

In a perfect world, the load-bearing joints of your lower leg, specifically the knee and ankle, should stack directly on top of each other with the foot pointing straight ahead. But for most of us, due to a lack of sufficient movement that starts at a young age (sitting at your desk in school, playing Nintendo after school, etc.), the innermost layer of stabilizing muscles that are responsible for controlling hip balance and stability begin to weaken and other larger compensating muscles take over. The end result is a misaligned femur, knee joint, ankle, and foot.

 

These misalignments in the lower leg cause a negative feedback loop, which adversely affects the hips and everything above the hips. We end up with a downward spiral of compensation on top of compensation.

 

If you have been following this four-week program, we started with some of the innermost fundamental compensations by addressing rotation in the trunk and pelvis, as well as pelvic misalignments. We then moved up to the shoulders, where we hold a great deal of compensation due to the amount of time we spend working at our computers, looking down at our smartphones, and driving.

 

Now finally, we are moving down to the lower extremity and eliminating ankle restrictions and dysfunctional knee alignment. While each individual will have his or her own unique combination of lower-leg misalignments, this set of exercise is a good generalized approach to making the needed corrections.

 

Week Four Exercises: Prone Ankle Squeezes

  1. Begin by placing a yoga block or firm pillow between your feet, then lying on your belly with your forehead resting on the backs of your hands.
  2. Bend your knees so your ankles are directly over your knees, and pull your toes back so the bottoms of your feet face the ceiling.
  3. Press your feet into the block, hold for a count of one, and then release.
  4. Repeat for 60 presses. Make sure to press through the entire edge of your foot, including the heels and balls of your feet.

 

You should feel this in your glutes. If you don’t feel it there, spread your knees apart and resume with the squeezes until you feel the muscle work happening in your glutes. This exercise will activate hip stabilizer muscles that control the correct position of the femur in the hip socket.

 

Week Four Exercises: Prone Abductor Presses

  1. Begin by placing a nylon strap or belt around your feet, measuring 1.5 to two fist widths apart between your feet.
  2. Lie on your belly with your forehead resting on the backs of your hands.
  3. Bend your knees so your ankles are directly over your knees, and pull your toes back so the bottoms of your feet face the ceiling.
  4. Press your ankles out against the strap, hold for a count of one, and then release. Repeat for 60 presses.

 

You should feel this in your hips. This exercise targets hip stabilizer muscles that control the correct position of the femur in the hip socket. If you are a victim of wobbly knees during box jumps or squatting movements, this exercise is a must.

 

Week Four Exercises: Supine Foot Circles and Point/Flexes

  1. Lie on your back with one leg extended and the other leg bent and pulled up toward your chest.
  2. Interlace your fingers behind the bent knee.
  3. Keep the foot on the floor pointed straight up toward the ceiling and your thigh muscles relaxed.
  4. Circle the lifted foot one way 20 times, then reverse the direction for 20 more times.
  5. Make sure the knee stays absolutely still, with movement coming from the ankle and not the knee.
  6. For the point/flexes, bring the toes back toward the shin to flex, and then reverse the direction to point the foot forward 20 times.
  7. Switch legs and repeat.

 

This exercise will improve ankle mobility and reestablish the teamwork that is supposed to happen between the ankle, knee, and foot.

 

Catch up on any missed weeks of this Progressive Posture Alignment series:

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