So, you are walking further to improve your endurance and loading on the muscles and tendons, and you have started improving your upper limb strength. Now we need to discuss lower limb strength and why it is so important.

Strength plays a critical part in protecting the joints and ligaments, as well as decreasing the impact on tissues of the foot, knee and lower limbs, as you increase the loads on your legs and body with your training. This is particularly relevant to the strength of your calves, quads, hamstrings and the muscles around the hips. For example, if you have weak calf muscles and you increase your walking, including introducing hills into the program, you greatly increase your chances of developing plantar fasciitis of the foot. Or if you have weak quads and then begin to do a lot of hill walking, you risk upsetting the kneecaps and developing patellofemoral syndrome. Both these conditions can be avoided with a graduated lower limb strengthening program.


Three exercises to build lower limb strength


Here are a few exercises to help avoid this and improve your lower limb strength. With each of these exercises, start with 10 repetitions and as you improve, increase the repetitions to 30 a day. Graduate this slowly to these levels over a few months. If you experience pain then do not progress the repetitions until you are pain free.

1. Heel raises:
Start in a standing position with your feet at hip-width apart. Keeping your knees straight, rise on to your toes. Return to the starting position, controlling the movement as you lower your heels to the ground. Progress to single leg heel raise as you gain strength.

2. Squats:
Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart.
Bend your knees and hips pushing your hips back behind you and leaning your body forwards, as though you are about to sit on the chair. Make sure you are bending from the hips not the back. Do not allow your knees to travel in front of your toes. Keep your weight on your heels, not your toes.
At the bottom of the squat, tense your buttocks, lift and straighten back up to the start position.

3. Step ups onto a chair:
Stand next to a sturdy chair or box. Place one foot onto the chair or box and step up with one leg and bring both feet together on the box or chair with both legs straight and standing tall. Step back down and then repeat with the other leg.


Ensuring your body is trek ready will help you avoid injury and unnecessary discomfort, whether you are on the adventure of a lifetime or a weekend getaway. I hope you find these tips useful, Deb.