Troubleshoot injury hotspots and build lower body power with this quick move…
Ideally you’ll do this exercise in front of a full-length mirror, so you can keep an eye on technique and look for potential weaknesses that you can work on. Begin by standing tall, barefoot, with your shoulders rolled back and down, spine in neutral and core engaged. Your feet can be slightly apart.
Stand on one leg
Single-leg squats are about balance; there’s no point doing 100 single-leg squats if you’re shaking all over. You’ll need to keep checking and adjusting your position as you go along. Start by raising one leg off the floor (place your hands on your hips or take your arms out to the sides or in front for balance). The first thing to do is make sure your hips are still in line and facing squarely forwards. Make sure there is still an arch in your foot – many people will see it roll inwards, a weakness that can cause trouble when you run.
Maintaining the position of your spine and hips, bend at the knee and hip to lower yourself into the squat. You don’t need to go far: keeping the motion slow and controlled and watching your alignment are the most important things to remember. As you lower, don’t let your back curve (think about sticking your bum out or going to sit in a chair); don’t let your toes on the standing leg go further forward than you knee; and most importantly don’t let your hip drop or your knee cave in sideways. If it’s a struggle, this indicates weakness which could lead to running and cycling injuries.
Return and repeat
Slowly raise yourself back to the starting position, switch legs and repeat. Most people find they are stronger on one side than the other: be aware of this and work to strengthen your weak side, or get it checked by a physio.
Words: Elizabeth Hufton