Single-Leg Balance

Single Leg Balance Training

Principles & Exercises

Understanding the basic principles involved in single-leg balance training will significantly help improve the outcome of this type of training.

The key is understanding your interaction with the ground and how the foot forms four arches that support us.

The image below shows the four arches of the foot. However, the main arch we are concerned with for our training is the medial longitudinal arch.

Personal Trainers St Albans Arches of Foot The medial longitudinal arch is more prone to changes in our lives where it can be lost or, more commonly, reduced. It may also become functionally weak when we walk, run and jump, contributing to ankle, knee, hip, or lower back pain and impairing function and performance.

The video below shows how to maintain the arches of the foot and better interact with the ground upon which we balance and push away to generate force.

Foot Tripod

Single-leg balance training is a great way to incorporate balance training into your regular exercise regime to maintain or improve function. The exercises train neuromuscular control of the foot, ankle, knee, and lumbar pelvis hip complex.

Exercises can start with simple static exercises and progress to more dynamic ones. For the more advanced athlete, the exercises can progress to single-leg reactive drills, which require a high level of skill and strength.

Single-leg balance exercises can be described as focusing on having little or no movement on the target joint or those that emphasise motion.

Simple to ComplexExample of Exercise
Level 1: Static

No movement across the entire body
Single-Leg Balance, Inline Balance: the only movement is the rotation of the head or closing of the eyes to affect the vestibular or visual systems, respectively.
Level 2: Static

Movement in the upper extremities
Single-Leg Balance Biceps Curl or overhead press variations: motion only occurs at the elbow or shoulder.
Level 3: Dynamic

Movement at the hip
Single-Leg Stiff Leg Deadlift variations, Single-Leg Balance Reach: motion occurs predominantly at the lumbar pelvis hip complex (LPHC).
Level 4: Dynamic

Movement at the hip and knee
Single-Leg Squat variations, partial or full range of motion: motion occurs at the LPHC, knee and ankle.
Level 5: Reactive

Stepping drills to stabilisation
Stepping from one foot to another or stepping up onto a plyometric box/step: all variations focus on stepping to single-leg balance leg whilst maintaining proper alignment of the foot, knee & LPHC and holding this position monetarily.
Level 6: Reactive

Jumping from one foot to the other
Jumping from one foot to the other, on level ground, or up onto a low plyometric box/step: all variations focus on landing on a single leg whilst maintaining proper alignment of the foot, knee & LPHC and holding this position monetarily.
Level 7: Reactive

Single leg hop or jump, landing on the same leg
Jumping and landing on the same leg, on level ground, or up onto a low plyometric box/step: all variations focus on landing on a single leg whilst maintaining proper alignment of the foot, knee & LPHC and holding this position monetarily.

Below are a few examples of the levels. However, as with many other exercises, the range of motion, speed of movement, and loads used can all influence the demand on the athlete. So, the levels presented are not definitive; however, they provide a good guide when analysing exercises and their demand.

Level 1: Straight Line Balance

Level 2: Single-Leg Hammer Curl

Level 3: Single-Leg Hip Hinge

Level 4: Single-Leg Squat Touchdown

Level 5: Step-Up to Balance Sagittal Plane

Level 6: Ice Skater to Stabilisation

Level 7: Single-Leg Squat Hop with Stabilisation