Whether recovering from an injury or simply looking to eliminate asymmetries, I often incorporate single leg squats in my programs. Avoiding medial knee collapse (valgus) is a challenging for many clients, and using a cone provides visual cuing and additional kinesthetic feedback to the body to guide motor learning.
Use a cone that is at least 12” high. Position the stance leg so the foot and knee is centered on the cone. Squat down on one leg while allowing the knee to move toward the cone keeping the foot flat on the floor. Return to the upright position while maintaining neutral alignment. Perform 8-10 repetitions and repeat on the other side. Repeat for 2-3 sets.
Be sure to keep the knee tracking over the second toes and toward the cone. I often cue clients to imagine a laser beam pointing out from the center of the kneecap and over the second toe as a cue, while envisioning cutting the cone in half. Discourage any excessive valgus or hip internal rotation/adduction during the movement, and watch for overpronation (often occurs with limited ankle dorsiflexion).
If balance or loss of alignment poses a challenge, consider allowing the client to use upper body support to master form
1. Increase cadence/time under tension
2. Add external resistance (weight vest, dumbbells, or kettlebells
This exercise offers several benefits including: strengthening the entire lower chain, increasing proprioception and dynamic stability, improving ankle mobility and reducing injury risk. It is appropriate for all ages and abilities, and serves as an excellent way to assess and train single limb balance and stability. If a client feels discomfort in the knee cap, a more vertical shin angle and/or lower flexion angle can be used to reduce strain. This exercise encourages functional triple flexion angles and can address concerns with mobility and strength asymmetry that may exist between limbs.