Why Seniors Need Lower Body Strength Training – For Therapists
Just one foot in front of the other. That’s all it really is. Whether it’s checking the mail, going for a walk, hiking a mountain, or running a marathon, it all starts the same way. It begins with one foot firmly planted on the ground leading your client forward, toward their goal.
Will they reach it?
Or will they falter, fail, or worse…give up?
It’s up to a combination of factors, motivations, and abilities, not the least of which is the strength and flexibility of their lower body.
You want your clients getting to where they want to go with smooth and graceful, confident and balanced movements. If they come to you insecure and shaky, unstable and unsure, you know you have some training to do with them.
HUR lends some wisdom from Clinical Specialist Dave Lykowski about the importance of strengthening the lower body muscle groups—especially for seniors.
Dave has been working with older adult populations for his entire career from personal training and one and one support, to being a Wellness Director of a Continuing Care Retirement Community and teacher trainer for HUR equipment. He knows his stuff.
When we spoke to him about the most important muscle groups to focus on for active seniors, he didn’t even pause. “The lower body.” He said it firmly, definitively.
He went on to explain that…
“Everybody wants to maintain a quality of life. The Lower body is most important because it’s relied upon for ambulation. You pick up your foot and move it a foot-and-a-half forward. More importantly, you put your foot in the direction you’re falling.”
— and then you don’t fall.
All the Reasons
When your clients work towards strengthening their lower body, they aren’t just working their legs, ankles, and feet. Lower body strength is a vital resource in preserving independence and overall health as they continue to age. It’s proven effective and it’s a highly efficient workout, as well as being enjoyable.
Check out these key benefits to lower body strength training.
- Increases bone strength
- Improves balance
- Boosts stamina
- Increases confidence
- Slows physical weakness
- Reduces risk of falling
- Decreases knee injuries
- Lowers pain levels
- Helps reduce hip injuries
As you already know, the lower body acts as the base of support in walking, jumping, hiking, running, and dancing. When your clients want to strictly focus on their upper body, instead, steer them to a comprehensive routine, or one more focused on their lower body muscle groups. This is because the largest muscles are located in the lower body. A workout focused in this area, gives attention to their greatest assets in maintaining strength, preventing strains, sprains, fractures, and staying stable in their movements.
The Major Muscles
This is the New Age of Strength and older adults need to know it’s never too late and that any exercise is better than no exercise. Consider what each of the lower body’s major muscle groups do.
- The gluteals and buttocks muscles move the upper leg to the side and back.
- The abductors help move the leg to the side and back to midline.
- The hamstrings elevate the heels toward the buttocks.
- The quadriceps straighten the leg, extend the knee, and lift.
- The gastrocnemius muscles point and bend the feet down and help stand on the toes.
Dave tells us that the best machines for working out these muscles are the leg extension/curl, leg press, and the hip adductor and abductor. Of course, don’t forget walking, jogging, hiking, running, and dancing, but the HUR senior-specialized equipment has made it even easier with quicker, more efficient, targeted movements.
Why HUR Equipment is Superior
HUR equipment is made for all seniors (and people!) whether they’re in focused rehabilitation and just learning to use their legs again, or want to compete in bodybuilding competitions. The equipment suits the unique skills of older adults. Period.
The equipment is easy on and off with a zero loading weight to start. They come with isometric strength testing sensors, range limiters, body supports, lock mechanisms, and they always follow the natural movement of the muscles. It’s sleek and non-threatening, convincing even the toughest naysayer into giving it a try.
Maybe your clients have bad knees or ankles and the idea of a walk, even a 10 minute one, makes them feel they aren’t up to the task. The HUR equipment is made to be easy and gentle on joints with subtle increments so that people can move up slowly, at their own pace. The point is that they move up.
“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
Then there’s the revolutionary HUR SmartBalance machine. First, it accesses your client’s balance and identifies the user’s risk for falls or other injuries. It then designs and implements a results-based fall management training program specifically for their body.
It comes with pre-programmed balance testing protocols that use highly interactive challenges and games like Tennis, Maze, and Chase to keep it fun and interesting. Lastly, it reports the tools back to the user in visual form. The results can then be checked against standard normalized data. Because Results Matter.
Pulling it all Together
Dexterity and Agility
Your client’sentire body is stabilized by their lower body, from sweating on exercise equipment to grocery shopping, or walking the dog. When they focus on these lower large muscle groups it provides this stabilization which in turn, helps dexterity and balance. When they have better dexterity they can move about more freely without falling and avoid other injuries. When they work towards good symmetry, it helps them get a complete workout, avoiding unevenness.
Even when your clients aren’t training for a marathon (or they are!). The increased energy that comes with a regular lower body workout, can make everyday activities more nimble and symmetrical, avoiding injuries. When they build their muscles, they are also going to increase their metabolism and burn more calories at rest. For clients with weight-loss goals as well, this can often be just the motivation they need to keep going.
When your clients haveweak muscles, they are more likely to develop painful muscle knots. When their posture and stability are improved upon while strengthening their muscles, their whole body will begin to feel better, more balanced, and stronger.
In the end, they’ll thank you for helping them take stronger, more secure, steps forward—toward their goal.