What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 3)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Calf muscles [1,2]

When you are talking about the calf muscles, you are actually referring to: (1) the gastrocnemius, and (2) the soleus muscles. Both of them are located at the back of your lower legs, and play important role when you walk, run, jump, and stand at the balls of your feet. These two muscles are attached to your heel bone by the so-called Achilles tendon.When you overwork your Achilles tendon, you will have inflammation on it, and this is called tendinitis[1].

Strengthening exercises for the calf muscles using body weight

Toe raises[2]

Face the wall and place one hand against it to support you. Slowly raise your whole body on your toes then slowly return your heel to the floor. Perform two or three sets of 10 to 20 toe raises. In between, you can have a 1-minute rest. As your legs get stronger, you can hold additional weights in your hands or place barbell over your shoulders behind the neck to increase the resistance[2].

Hamstrings[1,2]

The hamstrings are muscles that occupy the back portion of your thigh. One of these is calledthe biceps femoris which is a two-headed muscle. One of its heads is attached to the ischiumwhich is the lower and back part of the hip bone and the other one is attached to the femur which is the main bone of your upper leg. The other hamstring muscles are the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus. Lumping the three muscles togetherinto one, their main actions are to flex the knee and extend the hip. In addition to these main functions, however, the biceps femoris is involved in the internal and external rotation of the legs [1].

Strengthening exercises for the hamstrings using body weight

Hamstring curls[2]

Stand in front of a table or any other object whose height is at the level of your thigh and which could serve as your support. Place your hands on the supporting table and bend backward your one leg at the knee, maintaining that your thigh is still aligned with your upper body. Slowly raise your foot towards your buttocks as far as you can and slowly return to the starting point. Finish two or three sets of 20 with each leg[2].

Back muscles[1,2]

The three muscles at the back are the following: (1) multifidus, (2)longissimus, and (3) spinalis.The multifidus muscle stabilizes and supports the spinal column. Thus, it provides stiffness to it[1].The longissimus muscles, on the other hand, flex the head and neck on the same side, and they extend the vertebral column [3]. Finally, the spinalis muscle extends and laterally bends the neck and the trunk [1].

Strengthening exercises for the back muscles using body weight

Back extensions[2]

Lie flat on yourfront abdomen with your hands under your shoulders as if you are about to do push-ups. Slowly raise your chest up using solely your back muscles and slightly assisted by your arms. As your chest goes up, exhale and pause at the top of the exercise. Go down slowly and inhale as you do it. Complete two or three sets of 10 [2].

Alternate extensions[2]

Lie flat on your front abdomen with your arms extended in front of you. Rest your forehead on a folded towel on the floor. Raise one of your arms simultaneously with the opposite leg. Maintain it for three seconds and then slowly lower it down to the starting position. Complete ten repetitions for each.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longissimus

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