Exercises for Strong, Sculpted Legs

Photo Credit: Exey Panteleev CC-BY-2.0
Regular exercise, like walking and bicycling, can help keep your legs strong and toned. Exercise helps reduce the chance of diseases like osteoartiritis, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Calf raises and leg lifts focus on the lower leg by stretching and strengthening the muscles on the back of your leg below the knee. Strong leg muscles stabilize and protect your knee and ankle joints, which reduces the likelihood of injury and joint pain. Add some calf exercises to your regular exercise routine for strong lower legs. 
Front leg lifts target the muscles that support and stabilize the knee joint. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out. Lean back on your forearms in a reclining position. Bend your left knee and plant your left foot flat on the floor. Keep your right leg straight with your toes pointed toward the ceiling. Slowly lift your right leg off the floor toward the ceiling. Lift until your leg is about 6 inches off the floor. Hold the lift for 5 seconds and then lower your leg back to the floor. Repeat 10 times with each leg. 
Calf raises strengthen the long muscle on the back of your leg and strengthen the ankle joint. Stand on the balls of your feet on the edge of a stair step or a step-up exercise stool. Allow your heels to hang off the back of the stair. Hold onto the wall or stair rail for support to maintain your balance if necessary. Allow both heels to drop slightly below the level of the stair or stool. Hold the stretch for 2 seconds and then push your body up on the balls of your feet until your heels are above the level of the step. Hold of 2 seconds and return to the start position. Repeat 10 raises, up and then down. 

Strengthen Your Feet & Ankles

Photo Credit: אנדר-ויק CC-BY-SA-3.0 2009

Everyone, especially walkers, joggers and runners need strong feet and ankles to avoid injury, soreness and pain. Strong ankles and feet can  help you avoid injury from a sprain. Ankle sprains are a common injury, even among people who do not run or jog. Untreated ankles sprains can cause long-term joint problems, such as stiffness or weakness. See a doctor right away if you sprained your ankle and notice any swelling, bruising or other discoloration of the foot and ankle, coldness, numbness or tingling in the foot and toes. Begin exercising to rehabilitate your sprain only under the advice of a doctor and supervision of a rehabilitation fitness expert. There are a few exercises you can do to strengthen your ankles and help prevent injury. Try these exercises in your bare feet. 

Stand on one foot and hold your arms out from the shoulders parallel to the floor. Keep your eyes open and look straight ahead. Hold the position for 60 seconds, if possible. Try to avoid rocking on your foot by keeping the sole of your foot on the floor. Lower your leg and repeat with the other side. This exercise will not only strengthen your foot and ankle, it is a great balance exercise too.

Stand on the edge of a stair with your toes and allow the heels of your feet to drop an inch or two inches below the stair. Hold the wall or a hand-rail for support and balance if needed. Hold this exercise for up to 60 seconds. Lift your heels and stand on the edge of the stairs using your toes. Hold this position for up to one minute. Next, lower your heels as far down as you can and hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds and relax. Repeat the stretch for 10 repetitions.

Use a table or a stable chair for balance and stand on your toes. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then lower your feet back to the floor. Repeat this exercise for 20 repetitions. When your feet and ankles become stronger, increase the number of repetitions or perform the toe stand exercise using one foot at a time. 
Increase your ankle range of motion by stretching and rotating your foot. Sit on a chair and raise one leg about  2 to 3 inches off the floor. Point your toes and rotate your ankle clockwise 5 times and then counter-clockwise 5 times. Repeat with the other foot. Try to move only your ankle and not your leg. Next, drop a towel or a sock on the floor and use your toes to pick it up. Drop it and pick it up again 2 more times. Repeat the exercise 3 times with each foot. Increase the number of repetitions as it becomes easier for you to pick up the towel or sock.