Lower Extremity Control: Supplemental Program

In the realm of lower extremity conditioning, the focus often lies on force production. However, as a physical therapist, I’ve observed that injuries stem from three primary reasons:

  1. Inadequate Force Absorption: Many injuries occur because the body struggles to absorb external forces effectively. There are several key areas at the foot, lower leg, knee, thigh, and hip that absorb force.  The total amount of force exerted on the body is not being captured by the force absorbers.
  2. Muscular Discoordination: Dysfunction often arises from a lack of coordination among lower extremity muscles. This is the primary cause of cramping. This discoordination leads to some muscles doing too much while other do too little.
  3. Underutilization of Primary Force Absorbers: The key muscles responsible for absorbing force are not properly targeted and activated.  These are the most critical muscles and need to be constantly monitored and managed.

To address these issues, I designed a supplemental workout series aimed at supporting your overall program at SPC. We’ll begin with foundational exercises to enhance coordination.

  1. Mastering Foot Control: The journey starts with mastering the intricacies of foot control. By learning to isolate intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the foot, creating a foot dome, and practicing balance, you’ll lay a solid foundation for improved lower extremity function.
  2. Targeting Lower Leg Muscles: Next, we’ll shift our focus to the lower leg muscles. We’ll work on activating the posterior tibialis while dampening overactive calf muscles while simultaneously strengthening them. Then, we’ll move on to the often overlooked pretibial muscles, essential for lower leg stability.
  3. Activating the Quadriceps: The quadriceps play a pivotal role as the primary force absorber of the leg. Strengthening and ensuring proper activation of these muscles are crucial for preventing overloading of other leg structures and maintaining overall leg health.
  4. Addressing Gluteal Inhibition: Lastly, we’ll target the gluteal muscles and tensor fasciae latae (TFL). Weakness in these muscles is commonly associated with lower extremity pain. However, the issue often lies in inhibition rather than actual strength deficits. We’ll teach you how to prevent this inhibition from occurring.

This supplemental program complements our balance program. I recommend dedicating one session per week to this series and progressing to the next level only when you’ve mastered the exercises and drills. By systematically addressing these key components, you’ll not only enhance your lower extremity function but also reduce the risk of injuries and improve overall athletic performance.

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