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

Learn how to do a single leg stance to improve your balance and lower-body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

woman-doing-single-leg-stance

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

Learn how to do a single leg stance to improve your balance and lower-body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

woman-doing-single-leg-stance

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

Learn how to do a single leg stance to improve your balance and lower-body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

woman-doing-single-leg-stance

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

Learn how to do a single leg stance to improve your balance and lower-body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

woman-doing-single-leg-stance
Table of Contents

We’re big fans of any exercise that accomplishes several things at once. It’s effective. It’s time efficient. What’s not to like? The single-leg stance is one of those moves. It strengthens the muscles in your ankles, legs, hips, and core and also helps bolster your balance. 

That’s key because good balance can prevent falls and other potential injuries, and it plays a major role in all sorts of activities you do each day. Take the simple act of walking, for example. Every time you go for a spin around the block with your dog or stroll the grocery store aisles, you spend 40% of that walking time balancing on one leg, according to some estimates.

Read on for more info on the benefits of this exercise, and how-to instructions.

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 a Single-Leg Stance?

The single leg stance is an exercise that involves lifting and holding one foot off the floor while you balance on the other leg. It improves overall stability, proprioception (your body’s ability to sense where it is in space), and joint stability in your hips, knees, and ankles.

What Muscles Does a Single-Leg Stance Work? 

  • Ankle stabilizers, including the peroneal muscles (which run along the outside of your lower leg) and the tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior muscles (that span the length of your shin). These groups allow you to point, flex, and rotate your foot — and together promote stability around the ankle joint.  

  • Calf muscles. The main ones are the gastrocnemius and soleus; both are located on the back of your calf. These muscles help keep you balanced when you're on one foot, and enable you to point and flex your feet. 

  • Thighs. Your quadriceps (the muscles on the front of your thighs) and hamstrings (on the back of your legs) support your knee joints, and are important for things like getting up easily from a chair and squatting down to pick something off the floor. 

  • Hips, particularly your glutes. This group of butt muscles helps stabilize your hips during single-leg activities. 

  • Core muscles. This refers to the muscles in your torso — namely your abdominals, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and back — that work in synergy like a corset to keep your midsection strong and stable.  

Benefits of a Single-Leg Stance

Improved balance. This may reduce the risk of falls and injury. 

Better mobility. The single-leg balance is a functional movement — which means that the exercise is designed to mimic the way you move in real life, to allow you to do everyday activities with more ease. 

Increased joint stability. Working the muscles in your lower body supports the joints in your ankles, knees, and hips, kind of like a protective scaffolding.   

A stronger core. Balance exercises challenge your ab and back muscles, and there’s good evidence that a strong core can help you manage back pain, and may even prevent future pain flare-ups.

Single-Leg Stance: 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

This helps with any activity that requires you to stand on one foot, even if it’s just for a short period of time, like climbing stairs.

Single Leg Balance

This helps with any activity that requires you to stand on one foot, even if it’s just for a short period of time, like climbing stairs.

Single Leg Balance

This helps with any activity that requires you to stand on one foot, even if it’s just for a short period of time, like climbing stairs.

Single Leg Balance

This helps with any activity that requires you to stand on one foot, even if it’s just for a short period of time, like climbing stairs.

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To do a single-leg stance:

  • Begin standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart.

  • Shift your weight onto one foot as you lift your other foot off the floor, bringing your heel toward your butt. 

  • Grasp your raised foot or ankle with your hand as you reach the opposite arm out in front of you to help you balance.

  • Hold here, focusing your eyes on a spot on the floor a few feet in front you to promote stability.

  • Return to the starting position.

  • Repeat on the opposite side.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your hip, leg, and ankle muscles working.

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this exercise to meet your needs.

Single-Leg Stance Modifications

Single-Leg Stance Modifications

Single-Leg Stance Modifications

Single-Leg Stance Modifications

To make a single-leg stance easier:  

  • Gently rest your free hand on a wall, table, or countertop to help you balance.

To make a single-leg stance harder: 

  • Keep your free arm by your side, rather than reaching it out in front of you. Not having that counterbalance makes the move more challenging. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

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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References

  1. Araujo, C. G., et al. (2022). Successful 10-Second One-Legged Stance Performance Predicts Survival in Middle-Aged and Older Individuals. British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 56:975-980. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2021-105360

  2. Gait Cycle — an Overview. (2011). ScienceDirect Topics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/gait-cycle

  3. 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

Table of Contents
What Is a Single-Leg Stance?What Muscles Does a Single-Leg Stance Work? Benefits of a Single-Leg StanceSingle-Leg Stance: Exercises and Modifications To do a single-leg stance:To make a single-leg stance easier:  To make a single-leg stance harder: How Hinge Health Can Help You References