“Your health account, your bank account, they’re the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out.” – Jack LaLanne
One of the most fundamental activities any of us can engage in to sustain our physical health and well-being is exercise. And the variety and breadth of different types of exercise can be almost overwhelming.
For most people, physical exercise consists of a few, elementary activities such as walking, running, and assorted calisthenics using one’s bodyweight. Depending on the goals and the person’s physical condition, age, and capabilities, some of these exercises can be rather challenging and even difficult.
One leg squats sits squarely in that category.
Mastering One Leg Squats
This exercise can be a beneficial exercise that targets several of the body’s major muscle groups, primarily the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. It is essentially a variation of the basic, or two-legged squat and it is considered one of the more advanced exercise movements for most people.
As one source has pointed out,
“Although it’s performed differently, the benefits of the basic squat are passed on down to the single-leg squat. Like the conventional squat, the single-leg squat is a full-body exercise at heart. It’s a staple in many athletes’ workout routines as it works the major muscle groups and breathes life into stability exercises. The single-leg squat is of higher intensity and is often left to the veteran gym-goers or more experienced athletes.”
Like many other specific exercises, the one leg, or single-leg, squat can be performed with some variations. However, the basic maneuver consists of the following:
- Stand erect with your back straight and shoulders back.
- Spread your feet shoulder-width apart and hang your arms at your sides.
- Keep your neck straight and look forward.
- Start by extending your arms straight out in front of you and then lifting your left leg in the air and stretching it in front of you.
- Keep your left leg straight and your heel about a few inches above the floor (or simply bend your knee and hold your foot off the floor.)
- Start lowering your body by bending at the hips and pushing your glutes back slightly.
- Bend your right knee and lower your core while keeping your back straight.
- Squat as low as you can or until your knee is at a 90-degree angle and your thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Hold that position for a few seconds at the bottom of the movement.
- Stand by pushing down with your right leg to the standing position. Squeeze your glutes as you push into your right foot to stand back up. Keep your core vertical and your shoulders back during this motion.
- Stand up completely to your starting position. This is one rep.
A few tips for a proper execution of this exercise include always remembering to keep your back straight, and your shoulder blades close together to avoid rounding your shoulders. Also, before getting right into the single-leg squat, warm up for 10 minutes or so with leg stretches and mobility exercises. Mastering the basic squat is also highly recommended before attempting this exercise.
Benefits of Performing One Leg Squats
While the exercise itself looks deceptively simple, maintaining the proper posture and balance is demanding and not all that easy for most people. For many, this exercise is a real test of stability, balance, and coordination.
In addition, it works a variety of muscles and muscle groups.
Along with the core, or abdominals, one leg squats involve the following:
- The quadriceps – the group of muscles at the front of your thigh
- The glutes, also called the buttocks, along with the hip muscles: gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus, and gluteus medius
- The hamstring muscles that run behind the thighs and connect the knees to the hip.
- The calf region which are made up of two distinct muscles named the gastrocnemius and soleus
The net benefits of working and strengthening these muscle groups include muscle growth, toning, coordination, and balance.
One health and fitness product company noted on their site that,
“One common mistake gym enthusiasts make is focusing on one muscle group rather than the other. This is often evident in bilateral exercises like the conventional squat. Muscle imbalance can also result from repetitive movements that work for one muscle group harder and longer. This might cause other physical issues like pain and limited mobility. Unilateral exercises like the single-leg squat are a great way of combating muscle imbalances. As long as you perform an equal number of reps on each leg, the single-leg squat can help correct imbalances.”
In addition, according to Healthline,
“One small 2018 study found that single-leg squats were more effective for people with low back pain and who were in recovery from a sports injury. Researchers found that the single-leg squat allowed participants to achieve the same load of muscle activity in the hamstring, calf, hip, and abdominal muscles, but with less impact on the spine.”
Pain and Performance Solutions: When Pain Makes Exercise Difficult
While we highly recommend regular exercise for all our patients, we also understand that muscle or joint pain can prevent one from doing so. Whether it’s elbow pain or something hurting in your lower back, the first step to pain relief is to call Pain and Performance Solutions.
During your first appointment, we’ll ask a series of questions to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of pain so we can learn as much as we can about your current issue.
Afterwards we’ll conduct a full examination to determine which form of treatment will be best for getting you onto your road to recovery. And one of the most effective treatments for many soft tissue and joint pain issues is Active Release Techniques®, or ART®.
However, achieving significant pain relief can only begin when we have a full understanding of how and where your pain started. Oftentimes, the actual cause isn’t readily known since it could be that the pain started in another area as the result of an injury you might have sustained.
Your trust in us is key, as is your openness and honesty. Ultimately, getting your body working properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any, and all questions that you may have.
You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.