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Why It’s Important to Strengthen Multiple Body Parts

stretching routine

By Danielle Hoguet, DPT

If you look through the plan of care for a patient who comes to Loudoun Sports Therapy Center because they are feeling ankle pain for example, you will notice that their exercises and stretches are not only focusing on their ankle but also their hips and their knees. Not surprising, a common question we hear as physical therapists is ‘why do I have to strengthen my hips if I am here for my ankle?’

Regardless of the body part a patient is coming here for whether that be their ankle, their hip, their back or shoulder, we answer with this explanation: Everything in the body is connected in some way and what happens at one joint affects what happens at other joints. In this scenario, the hips control what happens at both the knees and the ankle.

Ankle injuries and pain related to poor foot mechanics often stem from weakness in the hips. If your hip muscles, especially the lateral hip muscles, are weak, they will allow your thighs to rotate inward. This causes your knees and ankles to compensate and rotate in the joint. These abnormal rotational forces through your joints can lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Recovery from these injuries often requires strengthening certain muscles to help improve joint mechanics and alignment. This is one of the main reasons that it is important for patients who come in with ankle injuries to also strengthen their hips.

The muscles that control the way the ankle moves can be easily overworked. It’s why it’s very important to strengthen them because if they are overworked, the rest of the muscles in the leg are not working as much as they should. This can lead to chronic irritation of the muscles and tendons at the ankle. The quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles have the capacity to be very strong stabilizers for functional movements that we do every day, including climbing up and down the stairs and squatting. If these muscles are weak, this can put more stress on the joints and smaller muscles lower down the chain. This is why we stress form and specific isolated muscle strengthening with the exercises we teach in physical therapy.

For all of these reasons, it is important to do well-rounded strengthening for any kind of isolated pain or injury, whether that be a foot or ankle injury or pain or injury elsewhere in the body. If you or someone you know is trying to push through pain or injury, DON’T WAIT any longer.

CLICK HERE to schedule your FREE ASSESSMENT with Loudoun Sports Therapy Center. Our expert physical therapists can evaluate your condition and help you get back to normal!