Strengthening Leg and Hip Muscles and Other Exercises
Harvard Medical School has released some guidelines for effective treatment for several knee and hip problems. Indicating that it is more than just a good health habit, exercise can be effective for many lower extremity problems. Strengthening the muscles around damaged hips and knees can support those joints by taking over some of its responsibilities. If your surrounding muscles (gluts, hamstrings, quads or abdominal) are strong they will be able to support body weight. Strong quads can take over shock absorbing roles.
Proper balance of the muscles can hold the joint in the best and most functional way to prevent pain.Usually the first muscles to lose strength are the large muscles so it would be important to maintain focus on those. Working in pairs muscles either contract or relax. If there is imbalance it can cause injury and other joint problems.
For example, if your hamstrings are tight, your quadriceps can’t contract fully and may weaken, so one should exercise the quadriceps and hamstrings (the opposing muscles) equally. Another suggestion is to do flexibility exercises ( stretching and relaxing specific muscles) to improve joint function.
Physical therapists have emphasized the distinction between open-chain and closed-chain exercises. The ”chain” meaning a series of body parts, such as a hip, knee, ankle, and foot.
In an open-chain exercise, the body is stationary while the limb moves. In closed-chain exercise, the limb is stationary while the body moves. For example, a squat is a closed-chain exercise. A seated leg extension is an open-chain maneuver.
After ACL injury open-chain exercises may be more effective for increasing quadriceps strength .
Physical therapists are mostly incorporating closed-chain exercises into rehabilitation programs and recommending them for people that have painful joints because these exercises involve more muscles and joints and thus help to create stability around a joint.
Using a physical therapist can be very helpful and because he will individualize your treatment program to restore or maintain your physical functioning for arthritis and other joint problems.
The therapist evaluates your functional ability, pain, strength, and endurance. A session with the physical therapist may involve pain-relieving treatments using ice, heat and massage. The physical therapist also supervises you in your exercises and explains exercises that can be done at home. Sometimes there may be a pool and other exercise equipment to use.
Gait training is a major component of physical therapy. Having knee and hip problems can disturb normal walking by causing pain, restricting joint movement, or weakening muscles. Standing, walking, or running may also cause joint problems if weakness in key muscles, poor coaching advice, or bad habits throw off the correct gait.
It could take years of walking with an abnormal gait before joint injury occurs and improper running can lead to pain and injury more rapidly because it involves greater force with each stride.
One of the duties of a physical therapist is to analyze your gait and help you learn to walk more normally. Initially, the proper gait may feel odd, but in time, it becomes comfortable. Sometimes a change in shoes or specific exercises to strengthen muscles may be necessary.
After knee or hip replacement there is a tendency to lean towards the operated leg therefore it is important to get retrained on how to stand straight and use both legs evenly. Gait retraining may be accomplished best by using the buoyancy of a swimming pool to learn how to stand straight and reduce the fear of falling.
The physical therapist uses the LegTutor to customize the patients exercises to their movement ability. These exercises are then done to strengthen the knee and the hip by doing both closed and open chain exercises. When the knee or hip is replaced the new state of the art physical therapy solution is also the TUTOR system. Specifically the LEGTUTOR is used to allow the patient to accomplish a series of intensive and challenging exercises. The LEGTUTOR consists of a safe and comfortable leg brace with position and speed sensors that precisely record three dimensional hip and knee movements. The LEGTUTOR has a range of motion limiter that can limit the dynamic range of knee extension and flexion. Rehabilitation games allow the patient to exercise range of motion, speed and accuracy of movement. The LEGTUTOR facilitates evaluation and treatment of the lower extremity including isolated and combined hip and knee movements. The LEGTUTOR and its sister physical therapy products (HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR, 3DTUTOR) are already in use in leading U.S. and Eurpopeean hospitals and clinics. They are suitable for adults and children and also through telerehabilitation. They are FDA and CE certified. See WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL for more information.