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Unilateral Training for the Lower Extremity

Once you’re able to perform an end-range squat pain-free after an acute knee or hip injury, it is important to progress to single-leg training of the involved limb. This will help to prevent re-injury and restore important movements pattern like the hip hinge for optimal gluteal activation.

Try these six exercises below. They should be pain-free and aim to do two sets of 10-12 reps while keeping the kneecap in the weight-bearing leg tracking with the 2nd/3rd toe.


1) Lunges (Forward and Lateral Lunge)

Alternating Forward Lunge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA4FGRBjMiU

Lateral Lunge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1JwEN32nCQ


2) Bulgarian Split Squat

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnMaRwEJZI


3) Single Leg Calf Raise (for this exercise, you should be able to do a set of 25 calf raises)

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hIgqJ0wNao


4) Single Leg Sit to Stand

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHFYaPN6t40


5) Single Leg Reverse Deadlift (with kettleball or medicine ball)

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMx4z7cnaUA


6) Single Leg Step Down with Heel Touch

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhooeMsj9Ls

For any additional questions and/or concerns, ask our friendly team of therapists to see which single leg strengthening exercises would be appropriate for you!

Author: Clarence Lau, BSc (Hons), MPhtySt

Toronto Registered Physiotherapist | Acupuncture Provider

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