Ankle and Knee Stability – Exercises To Build Lower Leg Strength


One of the biggest issues with our population is alignment. Being obese can obviously cause misalignment issues in the knees, hips and back, so losing excess weight and decreasing body fat are critical for helping with stability issues. But how can someone perform cardio exercise if they have pain from a lack of knee or ankle stability?

It’s a step-by-step process and you will work slowly toward improving your ankle and knee conditioning initially and then you can work toward more activities which will help with your fat loss goals. Plyometrics are excellent for those who are not obese but when you perform this type of training at a higher body weight you risk injury to your already deconditioned legs so you have to take a step back and work up toward these types of activities.

Once you are certain your footwear is fully supportive, you will want to add an exercise ball to your home gym equipment. I like to have my clients do bicep curls seated on an exercise ball with their core tight while alternating both arms with their palms out while also keeping one leg off the ground. Perform a few sets of 10-12 reps per side with your leg up. Try to really work on maintaining posture on this exercise. Next, I like to have my clients perform front shoulder dumbbell raises standing on one leg with the other leg bent back at 90 degrees. There are lots of great choices in ShapeFit’s exercise guides database which also double for excellent stability training movements.

Single leg hack squats are perfect but you really have to watch your form to make sure the knee does not fall inward. I would also alter with your toe-in and toe-out for each set with one set with your toes straight ahead.

Dumbbell side lunges really help the inner knee and ankle but you want to make sure you don’t use any momentum and focus on using only your muscles during the movement! Also pay close attention to your foot position and keep your back straight at all times.

Doing the leg press machine with only one leg at a time is an exercise that’s commonly used in physiotherapy and rehabilitation and it can be performed on an inverted machine, parallel leg press or sliding horizontal lying leg press which is commonly seen in physiotherapy clinics. You want to make sure to be able to see the mid area of your knee align with the outer upper foot whenever you perform a knee bending strength exercise unless different toe angles are implemented because this ensures you’re training in proper alignment. This rule can vary for other purposes but for alignment purposes you should stick to this rule of thumb. Sets should be kept between 2-5 and reps start at 10 per set and can work up to 40 reps or more. Weight is always kept light for this type of therapy especially when you are working with joints and conditioning.

Alignment issues are also a flexibility issue so you want to make sure your joint muscles are properly warmed up and stretched for conditioning and normal workouts as well. Quadriceps, hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, soleus, hips and glutes should be thoroughly stretched for 10-20 seconds each.

In summary, I only want to add that you should always keep movements with these types of workouts slow and controlled. Never use ballistic style movements, especially if you are overweight. Conditioning can be performed weekly or less frequently depending on your alignment needs and the severity of your issues. I also highly recommend deep tissue massage and chiropractic therapy to aid in alignment problems for those with severe pain.

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About Author

Linda Cusmano

Linda is a national level fitness and figure pro who dabbles in bodybuilding competitions, obstacle and strength challenges along with fitness model competitions. She is a triple certified elite personal trainer and the owner of Body Rush Personal Training. See my profile page for more information!

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