The proper musculoskeletal alignment of the legs is extremely important for biomechanics. Muscle imbalances and poor joint functioning can lead to both acute and chronic injuries. Improper functioning of the leg mechanisms can lead to poor performance in athletics. Learning which joints need preventive or treatment conditioning to pull your legs into proper alignment is essential.
Proper Alignment of the Legs
The proper alignment of the legs is with your hips balanced over your knees over your ankles. Toes should be facing forward with your feet parallel. Looking at your body from the front, side and back will help you determine if everything is in place. If your joints are not stacked upon each other, you may have a combination of muscle imbalances and restrictions in the range of motion of your joints. Learning how to put them all in alignment again is vital.
Improperly aligned ankles stem from a variety of things. Over pronation, when your ankles collapse in, and over supination when your ankles collapse out, are highly disruptive to proper walking and running mechanics. A lack of range of motion when you bring your toes to your shin or when you attempt to point your toes away from your shin can cause feet to turn in or out. Weak and inappropriately functioning ankles can lead to not only ankle injury but also injury of your knees and hips. Strengthening and stretching the muscles in your shins and calves can help put your ankle in proper alignment.
Knees are one of the most injured areas of the body. Most knee injuries are not due to contact situations but are due to weakness, improper alignment and poor landing skills. Keeping your toes visible beyond your knees whenever you complete a bending motion is extremely important. Knees require strong hamstrings, quadriceps and hip muscles to maintain alignment. Proper stretching and strengthening of these muscles reduces the risk of both acute and chronic knee injuries.
The hips are the final balancing act on the top of the legs. If your hips are not strong and in alignment with your ankles and knees, all the mechanics of your lower legs will be compromised. It is important to strengthen your buttocks, hips, lower back, stomach and legs to maintain this alignment. Preventing imbalances between one side and the other helps to promote good mechanics.
Exercises to Create Proper Alignment
Several exercises are important to perform on a regular basis to help to achieve and maintain proper alignment. Squats and lunges, while maintaining a visual contact on your toes beyond your knees is a great way to start. Stepping up to balance on a step or block will also create a method to strengthen joint alignment. All core-strengthening activities that can help to keep your lower back in proper position such as planks, cobras, back extensions, lateral legs lifts and crunches will help to keep your ankles in line with your knees in line with your toes.
- The Body Worker: Principles of Posture and Structural Alignment
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: NSAM Essentials of Sports Performance Training: Michael Clark, 2010