Want Toned Legs? Focus on the Ankles
By now you are probably used to me talking all about the hips, but I want to spend today’s post talking about another key focal point of my method that hasn’t been getting as much attention: the ankles. The truth is, the ankles are just as important as the hips, as they directly impact each other. More often than not, when the hips are not functioning correctly, it can be because the ankles aren’t working properly either. The same can be said for most instances of swelling in the calves and the thighs. Who woulda thought, right? But it’s true.
After years of training clients, I have mastered toning the thighs, and I’ve done this by focusing on these two joints that interact with the thighs. While the knees are important, the ankles and hips are my two biggest priorities-- once you get them both functioning perfectly, you can take your thighs to the next level.
Time for a quick anatomy lesson: The ankle joint moves in 3 planes of motion: the sagittal (forward and backward), the frontal plane (side to side) and the transverse (top to bottom). The ankle joint everts and inverts, as well as internally and externally rotates. All these motions (many of them occurring at the same time) are necessary for proper activation and lengthening of the muscles in the thigh. Activation and lengthening almost always translates to tightening and toning, thus creating the foundation of my approach to leaning out the muscles.
When it comes to function, the foot and ankle are the first part of the body that make contact with the ground. As a result, the ankle will control everything that happens in the body above that joint. Everything from low back pain to shoulder pain, weak knees, tight hips, even neck pain can be tracked back to a dysfunctional ankle. To this same point, swollen calves and thighs can often be a result of a jammed-up ankle.
My point is that these joint motions are crucial for proper bodily alignment and muscle function. In my experience, I have found it to be impossible to tone the thighs without first establishing this proper joint function; from there, the legs immediately start to lean out (and that is without doing any directly thigh-focused toning moves!).
The magic of P.volve, and what truly differentiates it from any other method out there, is that all of these proper pre-hab exercises necessary to create that joint mobility are already built into the majority of the exercises. In fact, the first half of all my workouts focus on moving the ankle in both the transverse and frontal planes of motion. In addition to the warm up, some of these moves include the open step, the rear step out (heel down), the 3 o’clock – 1 o’clock, and any and all pivoting motions. Any glider exercises that have angled pushes and presses are also all about that hip-ankle dynamic.
By taking the science of it all and incorporating these pre-hab/re-hab motions directly into the workouts, we take care of the body’s structure while maximizing potential for toning and conditioning the muscles. Now, that’s a win-win if I’ve ever seen one!
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