6 best exercises to strengthen your hips, knees and ankles

Side plank

Start on your left side. Tighten your abs and lift your hips up. Hold for 30 seconds, then relax. Switch sides and repeat, aiming for five reps on each side.

Make it harder: Lift your top leg while in the plank position.

Photo by Mitch Mandel

Single leg lunge

Stand in front of a chair and place your left foot on it. Squat until your right thigh is parallel with the ground. Beginners should start with 10 reps (on each side), working up to 20 repetitions.

Make it harder: Hold dumbbells.

Photo by Mitch Mandel

Single leg deadlift

Stand on your left leg. Keeping your back straight, bend forward and reach for the ground. Return to standing and repeat. Start with 10 reps (on each side), with the goal of working up to 20 reps.

Make it harder: Hold dumbbells.

Photo by Mitch Mandel

Single leg calf raise

Stand on your right leg – feel free to touch a chair for balance. Slowly lift up onto your toes, then lower. Start with 10 reps and work up to 30 on each leg.

Make it harder: Once you can do 30 reps on each leg with good form, hold dumbbells.

Photo by Mitch Mandel

Single leg bridge

Lie with knees bent, arms extended out. Straighten one leg. Tighten your glutes and lift your hips. Hold for a few secs, then lower. Aim for 25 reps on each leg.

Make it harder: Once you can do 25 reps on each leg, fold your arms across your chest.

Photo by Mitch Mandel

Side leg lift

Lie on your side, legs extended out. Slowly raise and lower your right leg. Do not allow your pelvis to roll forward or backward. Aim for 30 reps on each side.

Make it harder: Once you can do 30 reps with proper form, wear ankle weights.

Photo by Mitch Mandel

Experts agree that one of the most important things a runner can do to prevent joint pain is to incorporate strength work into our training routine. Strengthening exercises condition muscles, tendons, bone and cartilage so that they can better tolerate the stress of running. The exercises here, from physiotherapist Mark Temme, work the muscles that support your hip, knee and ankle joints. Temme prescribes single-leg exercises to runners because ‘running is a series of one-legged squats’, he says. ‘You’ve got to strengthen your legs in a way that has a functional carry-over to your sport.’ He recommends doing this routine two or three times a week.

Once you can do these exercises with proper form, add some weight. Temme says that runners should work up to being able to do six to eight repetitions with a weight that is heavy enough so that the last few repetitions in a set are difficult. This helps mimic the stress placed on the body while running. Make sure you don’t try to do too many repetitions in the early weeks. Take your time to adapt and complete the exercises with good form.