Our legs should be the strongest area of our body in regards to the periphery. They do, after all, have to support us day in and day out! But because of their relative strength, it becomes very easy to miss when our legs aren’t supporting us the exact right way, because all things comparable they are still stronger than our arms!
So how strong is strong enough? What should our legs be able to do, and how do we know when they need some work? The test we use in clinic is actually very simple. Our body needs to be able to lift itself, and we have found significantly higher risk of falls in people who are unable to stand without using their arms from a standard height chair. This basic amount of power is a huge deal, and needing our arms to help get up is a big signal that we need some work. This is not an insurmountable amount of work, especially if we catch it early enough, but recognizing this risk is a huge deal!
We can get even more proactive though. If we look at how efficiently those muscles in our legs work, we can get an even better view on our strength. We have found that people who are able to rise from a chair and sit back down 5 times in under 11 seconds without use of their hands are at a lower falls risk than their peers who cannot, and this is a very easy thing to test on ourselves at home! If our muscles cannot produce enough power to accomplish this, it means that while we may have that base strength, it is not working at the level that we may need it!
So what if you cannot pass these tests? Well, thankfully muscles are great at growing with the right exercises, but you have to challenge your body. Hard exercises like squats and lunges can be very important, and if you find you need more help, feel free to ask a therapist or trainer to learn more!