“What are a few good exercises that I can incorporate into my routine that will keep me healthy and get me stronger?” This is a very common question I often get as a PT from clients at the end of their therapy plan of care. It might be slightly different based on their history, what their injury was, and what they enjoy doing. However, the great thing about each of the exercises below is that there are multiple ways to modify them to make it easier/harder or target different muscles groups. Each exercise can be performed at home. They do not require weight or resistance, but weight can easily be incorporated in to make the challenge harder. The greatest aspect, of each exercise if done appropriately, is that anyone, no matter what their age is, can do it.
Top 5 Exercises:
- Bridge: Most people who come with lower body injuries have under utilized gluteal or butt muscles. They have the muscle, but they aren’t using them. The bridge is great because it helps to turn on and develop that muscle which is a big mover for most of our movement, including walking/running, or bending/lifting. The key to this exercise is to make sure you are squeezing your gluteal/butt muscles and not your lower thigh muscles as you lift your hips up.
- Plank: It is my experience that there are 2 types of people in the world. Those who like working their core (trunk/abs etc). And those that don’t. I unfortunately fall in the second category. However as a PT I know the huge benefit of working your core. A strong core, which is the center or base of your body is essential for recovery for any body part, largely your low back but also your neck/shoulder down to your ankle. A plank if done correctly can help build the endurance and strength of those core muscles.
- Squat: What more functional exercise is there than a squat (and I mean squat, not knee bend, I mean butt back, trunk straight and tilted forward). We do it every day as we take a seat or pick up a heavier object from the ground. If done appropriately it can strengthen each major muscle group in your legs and make everyday tasks easier.
- Push Up: Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the upper body. The push up is great, because you can modify it depending on level. You can do it on your knees, on an elevated surface such as your bed or wall, or the typical push up on the ground. If done correctly it works many of the muscle groups in your arms and chest and also requires you to use your core/trunk muscles by keeping your body straight.
- Lunge: Last but not least is the lunge. It’s a great exercise to get your legs stronger, but also challenge your stability. It requires you to work your balance as you narrow your stance and take dynamic steps forward, backward, or to the side. 2 for the price of 1!
Safety first for all these exercises. If these exercises cause pain that lingers or doing them is consistently uncomfortable or you feel unsafe. Contact your trusted Physical Therapist to help guide you.