How stable is your foundation?
By Jackie A. Miller, Britfit
In this article I will share with you some suggestions to help you check in on how your single leg stability could be better maybe?
Why you ask? Well, because if you walk, run or bike, at some point you will be shifting your weight off one leg onto the other. If you are moving often, then you should do it well. There is plenty of evidence to substantiate that having less movement asymmetries and or deficits can help reduce time off from injury.
First, you need to assess your current status. You have a couple of choices here.
- Bare foot, stand in front of a mirror. Wear shorts or leggings so you have clear sight of your whole leg from the hip down to the floor. Now balance on one leg. What happens? Does your ankle, knee or both cave inwards? Does the stance hip move out causing the opposite hip to drop or tilt downwards? Can you even stand on one leg well and for how long?
- Run on a treadmill in front of a mirror. Placing your bike trainer in front of a mirror can also be helpful too. Start out at a low speed so you are looking at your movement patterns from a walk or EZ spin, then increase the intensity and look for the same points mentioned in number one.
- Have someone video you running from all angles. Hiring a skilled professional to do a run analysis can be very insightful as they know what to look for. If you have the capability to see yourself running towards and away from the camera it can be very telling.
Now you have assessed and maybe learned a few things about your current movement patterns what can you do to improve on it? The following correctives can be done daily with very little equipment, almost anywhere!
- Single Leg Stance with Core Activation
Sometimes, we may not fire our core muscles reactively to respond to the demand. However, this reflex is there. Hopefully this won't happen to you but if someone is about to punch you in the gut what do you do? You would brace yourself in order to protect yourself from the oncoming blow. You probably will brace your diaphragm with a sharp intake of breath, causing some pressurization of the abdominal area. This core activation can also help with your balance and overall stability.
Anchor a band up high, stand in front and take hold of the handles. Press down to feel tension in the band, this will activate the core. Now perform a single leg stance trying not to weight shift much. Pay attention to any differences left and right. Using a mirror is good for feedback at times but don't become reliant on it. Learn to feel what you see, but learn to feel what you feel. That way you can develop great movement awareness.
2. Single Leg Stance with RNT correction
Stand on one leg with a band around the outside of the knee. Allow the tension of the band to give you just enough feedback to want to cause the knee to do what we will correct-that is to cave in. Reactive Neuromuscular Training is a great way to amplify the movement deficit. It helps turn up the noise and awakens neural pathways in the brain to react to the stimulus. Practiced over and over again you quickly learn to correct and upload the new skill. The resistance does not need to be high. The strength gains are coming from how your brain is working, not by muscle hypertrophy.
A progression off this would be to add a step up. Work on your correct movement pattern on the up and downward phase (eccentric and concentric load). Changing speeds is good too.
3. Single Leg Hip Hinge with RNT correction
Here you have to develop more of a reactive core to overcome any rotational demands placed upon you, as you move differently through space.
Placing the band at different points can help you correct any difficulties you may experience with this. Addressing any muscle tightness with some foam rolling can benefit here too. Some lack of flexibility can reduce your ability to perform this well but that is a whole other article! This is still a great movement to include; progression would be to add a load turning it into single leg deadlift.
All of these correctives can be done daily. The higher the frequency, the faster you can correct and improve. As for sets and reps, it's about quality not quantity, a few sets each leg of 4-5 reps is enough.
Remember to recheck yourself every week, compare your form over time, the practice will pay off and you will start to see changes for the best. Over time you should feel more connected and more aware of your overall movement patterns. Good luck!
Jackie Miller is the owner
of Britfit Personal Training & Coaching LLC
, based in Holly Springs, NC.
As a level II USAT coach and ACE personal trainer, she specializes in working with athletes of all skill levels.
With over 20 years of experience, Jackie combines functional movement philosophies, with high level strength and conditioning science based principles, to help her clients move and perform well.
She believes that providing a personalized training plan, with follow up and follow through, is important for you to achieve your goals.
Her own racing experience on a competitive level, nationally and internationally, can bring practical experience to the training too.