While the showoff muscles get all the acclaim, they'd be nothing without the supporting cast of smaller stabilizers and assisting muscles. Ignore them, experts say—and you'll eventually pay the price. The cost? Injury. Missed workouts. Painful runs. An unbalanced body. Wondering if your'e guilty? Here, experts discuss the most neglected muscles, why they're important, and how to strengthen them for an even, injury-free physique.
Have you ever suffered from shin splints? If so, listen up: failing to strengthen this vital muscle—which runs along the bottom part of your leg, next to your shin bone, and plays a huge role in forming a healthy gait—can increase your risk of getting those nagging lower-leg pains. "The tibialis anterior plays a vital role in walking, running and sprinting," says Andrews.
Strengthen it: Do this 2-3 times a week: Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, then—keeping your heels on the floor—raise your toes off of it for 8-10 reps. To increase the challenge, you can balance a small dumbbell (5 lbs) on your foot for added resistance. Or you can also sit on a high chair or bench, with enough room for your feet to dangle, and do the same exercise with a dumbbell between them.