Running is such a dynamic activity that requires stability, balance, and alignment as you bound from one leg to the other. That’s why focusing on these characteristics within your strength training program can make a huge impact on how well you function on a single leg. That is, if you address them properly…
When we look more closely at alignment of the lower limb, it becomes clear that emphasis needs to be placed at the foot and hip. These two areas ultimately control the knee joint, which most people consider the culprit for poor alignment at the lower extremity. Although there is a small degree of tibial (knee) internal and external rotation which could impact alignment, it’s more likely a stabilization issue at the medial longitudinal arch or posterolateral hip musculature. These areas need to possess proper feed-forward and feedback mechanisms during late swing phase, foot strike, and midstance. Basically, they provide input to the nervous system in preparation and response to movement/joint position to maintain optimal alignment of the limb.
Over the years, I have tested a variety of single leg movements on my running clients to determine which will provide the best bang for your buck. In doing so, there have been three which have shown consistent, positive results. Of course, your exercise selection should target your goals and body’s specific limitations. However, from a general standpoint these three exercises are well worth your time if you want to improve stability, balance, and alignment. They include:
- Lateral Toe Taps with Band
- Lateral Step Down
- Slow Eccentric Step-Up
To best explain the key points of each exercise and why they matter when it comes to stability and alignment, I’ve included a video below which will teach you how to perform each one correctly and with the most success. The next step is for you to stay consistent over the next few months and emphasize good control to see positive results and carryover to your running.
Thanks for reading about single leg alignment and stability. I hope this article highlighted it’s importance when it comes to running and being more efficient on a single leg. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or contact me directly.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART