How to Do a Single-Leg Balance: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a single-leg balance exercise to help with lower body strength and stability, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Aug 30, 2023

The single-leg balance exercise is a foundational movement that offers numerous advantages for daily life and overall health. Practicing this exercise enhances proprioception, or your body's awareness of its position in space. This is crucial for coordination and safe movement. It strengthens stabilizing muscles, especially around the ankles, knees, and hips, reducing the risk of injuries and promoting joint health. It also helps improve balance, reducing the risk of falls and fostering confidence in movement. 

Here, we’ll talk more about the benefits of the single-leg balance exercise and how it can be a beneficial addition to your movement routine — plus modifications to make the exercise easier or more challenging. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Is Single-Leg Balance?

Single-leg balance is an exercise that involves standing on one leg while maintaining your balance and an upright posture. It challenges and engages the body's proprioceptive system, which is responsible for sensing the position and movement of your body parts in relation to each other and the environment. Single-leg balance tests and exercises are commonly used in physical therapy, sports training, and fitness assessments.

What Muscles Does Single-Leg Balance Work? 

The single-leg balance exercise is a functional movement that requires various muscles throughout your body to be engaged so you can maintain stability. While it might seem like a simple movement, balancing on one leg demands coordinated effort from several muscle groups, including: 

  • Ankle stabilizers, such as the peroneal muscles (along the outside of the lower leg) and the tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior, which help you bring your toes up. 

  • Lower leg, including the gastrocnemius and soleus. These calf muscles provide stability and support when you're on one foot and help you point your toes down.

  • Thighs, including the quadriceps (front of the thigh) and hamstrings (back of the thigh), which work in tandem to stabilize the knee. The adductors, or inner thigh muscles, also help stabilize the leg and can be particularly engaged if you're resisting the urge to let your leg sway outward.

  • Hips, particularly the glutes. These help with hip stabilization, especially during single-leg activities. They prevent the opposite hip from dropping excessively when standing on one leg.

  • Core muscles, which refers to the abdominal, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and back muscles. These all play a crucial role in maintaining balance.

  • Upper body. While the focus of the single-leg balance is on the lower body and core, the muscles of the upper body, including the deltoids, trapezius, and rhomboids, might also be engaged, especially if you use your arms to help maintain balance.

Single-Leg Balance Benefits

The single-leg balance exercise offers a lot of benefits that translate to improved performance in everyday activities. For instance, many daily movements involve being on one foot (even briefly), such as walking, climbing stairs, putting pants on, stepping into a bathtub, and stepping over obstacles. Single-leg balance helps ensure you are able to support your body during all these movements.  

It can also improve proprioception, or your body's ability to sense its position in space. By enhancing proprioception, daily activities that require coordination become easier and safer, reducing the risk of missteps or falls.

Lastly, the single-leg balance exercise can help improve joint health and reduce the risk of injuries. Balance exercises help with joint stability. By strengthening the muscles around joints, especially those of the lower body, you build resilience to a variety of daily movements.

Single-Leg Balance: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Single-Leg Balance

Single-Leg Balance

Single-Leg Balance

Single-Leg Balance

To do single-leg balance: 

  • Start by standing in a comfortable position. 

  • Bend one leg to lift your foot off the floor by bringing your heel up toward your butt. 

  • Grab your foot or ankle with your hand as you reach out with your other arm to help with your balance. 

  • Focus on your balance and your breath as you hold this position. 

  • Relax your foot to the floor and return to a standing position. 

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Single-Leg Balance Modifications

Single-Leg Balance Modifications

Single-Leg Balance Modifications

Single-Leg Balance Modifications

To make single-leg balance easier:  

  • Instead of reaching one arm out, gently touch a wall or table with your free hand to help with balance. 

To make single-leg balance harder: 

  • Keep your outstretched arm closer to your side so your lower body has to do more of the balance work. 

How Hinge Health Can Help 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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  1. Marcori, A. J., Monteiro, P. H. M., Oliveira, J. A., Doumas, M., & Teixeira, L. A. (2022). Single Leg Balance Training: A Systematic Review. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 129(2), 232–252. doi:10.1177/00315125211070104

  2. Araujo, C. G., de Souza e Silva, C. G., Laukkanen, J. A., Fiatarone Singh, M., Kunutsor, S., Myers, J., Franca, J. F., & Castro, C. L. (2022). Successful 10-second one-legged stance performance predicts survival in middle-aged and older individuals. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 105360. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2021-105360