Importance of single leg training
Most of our daily activities like walking, running, climbing up and down stairs, involve transitioning body weight from one leg to another. Movement, for most part is a series of transfer from one limb to another. It’s only natural to extrapolate, therefore, that efficient and strong movement would be a direct result of the strength of muscles as they get repeatedly called into action in a single leg stance. Any weakness in muscles that need to support the body in it’s daily actions, would eventually lead to injuries and compensation patterns. This would negatively impact movement (stability, efficiency and power) and form a cycle. The more forceful the the activity, the greater the need for these stabilizers and mobilizers to fire powerfully and in unison. Consider a simple activity like walking. Its recommended as a daily exercise for all age groups, and often as a recovery tool. We think of it as simply putting one leg in front of the other. In reality, this can be broken down into steps involving double leg start off, lifting one foot off the ground, swinging it past the grounded foot, contacting the ground with heel, rolling over to the balls off the feet, and then beginning to push off, with the other foot now readying to perform the same sequence. So there are phases in this cycle (referred to as the gait cycle) that require you to balance and stabilize your body weight on one leg as the other continues in the motion of movement! If we were to consider running in a simplified manner, there are repeated phases in this cycle (running cycle) of one foot contacting the ground, rolling and lifting or pushing off, both feet then air borne as the body moves forward, and then the other leg repeating the cycle. Again, this becomes a series of single leg balancing transitions, albeit much more forceful, due to ground reaction forces acting upon the body now multiplying way past those in the act of walking! When you walk, you subject your body to 1-1.5 times your body weight. While running this goes up to almost 4 times! So someone weighing 50 kg running would be subject to forces almost up to 200 kg!! And while transitioning from one single leg stance to another! Likewise, consider climbing up and down stairs. You do so one leg at a time. So it makes sense to incorporate single leg training into your regime since the most common and important functional activities demand so. There are several exercises and variations of double leg exercises that can, and should be regularly practiced. And if you perform these barefoot, nothing like it! It will only enhance balance, muscular strength and proprioception by activating the smaller nerves (the importance of which in the whole movement process is greatly undermined).