If you’re experiencing pain in your lower leg, exercises that work to strengthen muscles can help improve your discomfort. Often, leg muscles can get overused, weak, or out of balance with injury, repetitive motion, or any other type of lower body strain. With the right home workout exercises, you can experience relief and better quality of life. Keep reading to learn more about lower leg strengthening exercises for reducing pain.
The following exercises focus on building lower leg muscles along with, ankle, and foot stability to reduce the effects of imbalance and strain. Additionally, these exercises promote blood circulation for appropriate healing and swelling/pain management.
Standing on one leg is an excellent exercise for addressing core and leg strength all at once. Plus, the challenge it provides to your balance makes it a great functional move as well. The first step is to pick a surface to stand on that appropriately challenges your balance. For some, simply standing on a hard surface may be enough. Otherwise, consider standing on a softer surface like a foam balance pad, balance disc, or even a wobble board.
This classic calf strengthening exercise, also known as calf raises, is a must for any lower leg strengthening routine. It targets both calf muscles: the gastrocnemius and soleus. The level of difficulty with this exercise is determined by the range of motion you can complete. Additionally, you can start with double heel raises and progress to single leg heels raises. From there, you can further challenge your calves by standing on a softer surface just like the balance exercises above.
Alternative calf exercises include placing your midfoot on an elevated surface like a step to give your ankle more range of motion to work through. This is particularly excellent when you are dealing with achilles tendon pain and swelling. You can also progress this exercise by adding dumbbells or a kettlebell to your bodyweight to boost your strength training.
This simple exercise is great for restoring balance to the lower leg. It focuses on building knee stability for reducing strain on the lower leg muscles, particularly the calves.
This band exercise is great for full ankle strengthening. Each of the three exercises is designed to build strength in practically every muscle in the ankle. All you need is a resistance band to get started.
The one ankle motion that is missing from this sequence is dorsiflexion. This is because it requires the help of another person or some creativity in the band set up from below the foot.
Strengthening the foot can play a pivotal role in alleviating lower leg pain too, particularly with issues like plantar fasciitis and shin splints. This is because the muscles in the foot help provide full leg stability for weight bearing activities.
Additionally, there are plenty of other options for strengthening the feet, such as drawing the alphabet with your toes or picking up items like marbles.
Once you have mastered the basics of lower leg and foot strengthening, it’s time to progress to more dynamic lower body workout exercises. Incorporating exercises that require full leg coordination of the lower back/core and leg muscles (such as the quads, hamstrings, and glutes) will help you get back to your sport or daily activities with more confidence and less risk of future injury. Exercises you might try include:
Single leg standing with reaching, head turns, ball throwing, upper-body exercises, etc.
One leg at a time or alternating.
Focusing on form, you can add weight, make the range of motion deeper, or even jump.
Jump rope, high knees, running in place, skaters, jump squats, jump lunges, etc.
With lower leg exercise, there are a few tips to keep in mind that will maximize your recovery.
Start slowly and use your symptoms as a gauge to decide when to progress (or modify)
Always keep good form with exercise, such as running- keeping good ankle, knee, hip, and even spine alignment to optimize mechanics and reduce risk of aggravation
When you aren’t moving, still think about your posture with sitting and sleeping
Stretch your lower leg muscles first as needed to reduce stiffness and pain, such as a calf stretch
Manage any pain with home treatment modalities like ice, heat, and electrical stimulation
Rest from higher impact activities as needed, like running and jumping, until you are ready to return with minimal pain and good mechanics
Consult a physical therapist as needed- physical therapy can help you recover quicker when you aren’t sure where to start or how to progress appropriately
Whether your lower leg pain is a result of lower leg weakness, imbalances, or poor coordination, having a well designed exercise program can make a world of difference. Stay consistent with your leg workouts and you should start to notice the benefits almost immediately, with symptoms improving over the next 6 weeks as you make further strength gains.
If you experience a sudden change in symptoms or they are severe, make sure to get in touch with a trusted medical professional for further medical advice as soon as possible.
Sources:Shop Lower Leg Pain
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