If you are looking for a great total-body workout that emphasizes your legs, get on a lateral thigh trainer. These little machines are mobile and easy to use. They provide a low-impact, high-aerobic exercise that is safe and gentle on your joints. The faster you move, the more calories you will burn. The slower you move, the more focused your movement will be on toning and conditioning your legs.
Since the lateral thigh trainer requires the movement of your entire body, you are truly getting a full-body workout. Initially, the challenge is balance. This recruits your core stabilizer muscles that work to maintain equilibrium in your hips. As you bend forward and bring yourself back to neutral, you are flexing and extending your spine. The movement of your leg to the side is called abduction. When you bring it back in, it is called adduction. When you straighten and bend your knee, it is called extension and flexion.
Core Stabilizers of the Hip
As you move one leg out to the side and straighten it, the other one moves in and bends at your knee and hip. Hip flexion engages one of the most important hip stabilizers, the iliopsoas. It starts at the top of your hip then crosses the front of it and inserts into the inside of your thigh. The opposing muscles that work with the iliopsoas to stabilize the hip are the gluteus medius and minimus. The gluteus medius is located underneath and in front of the gluteus maximus, while the gluteus minimus is beneath and slightly in front of the medius.
Spinal Flexion and Extension
Spinal flexion involves the external and internal obliques, and the rectus abdominis, or the six-pack muscles. Spinal extension recruits the erector spinae group that consists of three muscles: the spinalis, longissimus and iliocostalis. All three extend the length of the back from the lumbar, or lower back, through the thoracic, or middle back, and into the cervical spine, or the upper back and neck. If you have ever gazed at an athlete's back, you may have seen the muscles that bulge out along each side of the spine. That is the erector spinea group.
Leg Abduction and Adduction, and Knee Extension and Flexion
During hip abduction, you use the gluteus maximus. This muscle is the most superficial butt muscle and the one visible to the human eye. You also use the tensor fascia lata, which sits anterior to the gluteus maximus and above the iliotibial tract. The main adductors of the leg are the gracilis, the adductor magnus, longus and brevis, and the pectineus. During knee extension you are using all four of your quadriceps muscles, and during knee flexion you are using all three of your hamstrings and the gastrocnemius. So get on your lateral thigh trainer, sweat and work out these muscles.
Tanya Siejhi Gershon specializes in treating chronic muscle pain with yoga and myofascial release. She has a Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology, is an experience registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, and a nationallycertified bodyworker with NCTMB. She has published numerous health and wellness videos and articles in AZ Central Living, ModernMom, eHow, Chron, LIVESTRONG and TheNestWomen.