Have you ever thought about how much time you spend on one leg throughout the day? Is your weight equally distributed between each leg, or is your weight shifted to one side more than the other? Whether walking, running or standing, spending an equal amount of time on each leg is important to maintaining proper muscle balance.
Whether you realize it or not, we spend a great amount of time on a single leg during a typical day. Every time you take a step, your body needs to shift weight onto that leg for a brief moment in time. It is during this time that single leg stability and strength needs to be adequate, otherwise a stumble or fall might occur. Practicing a single leg stance can therefore be an effective exercise to develop a proper weight shift and better stability. The beautiful thing about this exercise is that it can be performed anywhere! Next time you brush your teeth, try standing on your right leg for 15 seconds, then on your left. Maybe try balancing on a single leg while you clean the dishes or while you throw a ball for your dog. The opportunities are endless! There are many progressions of the single leg balance and we’d love to show you some in the clinic.
Balancing on both legs is very important because if your weight shift favors one side of your body, a muscle imbalance may occur. Muscle imbalance is a common issue we see in the clinic. While not always the case, an imbalance may be the result of spending more time bearing weight on one side of your body versus the other. This week, pay attention to how you stand. Pay attention to how you walk. And pay attention to how you negotiate steps. Do you favor one leg versus the other? Do you bear more weight through one side of your body? If you find yourself shifting your weight more to one side of your body, shift your weight to the other side. It may feel odd, but keeping an equal weight shift through both legs may help improve performance and decrease symptoms that you may be experiencing in the hips or low back.
As with most things in life, balance is essential. The more awareness you have of your weight shift, the better your muscle balance will be. Equal weight shifting may just keep the physical therapist away!