Number 1: Barefoot Single Leg Squat with Reach, or the Bowler Squat.

 

 

Q: Why?

A:  (short version)  It will save your knees.

Q:  Why?

A: (long version)

First, compared to men, women genetically have a larger “Q-angle” and a more anteriorly (or forward) tilted pelvis. The increased Q-angle predisposes them to chronic knee instability and higher risk for ACL injuries due to the angle that the femur ascends to the knee joint. Having a more anteriorly tilted pelvis can lead to more weight being carried in the ball of the foot when compared to the heels and also more strength in the quads than in the glutes. More on this later.

Secondly, women also wear more high heeled shoes. High heels offer a quick way to trick your brain into thinking you’ve been walking down a really steep mountainside all day. Before long, your calves tighten to pull your feet up onto the toes. The pelvis also tends to tilt even more forward in an effort to work more synergistically with the awkward ankle position. The end result is dramatically decreased ankle mobility (dorsiflexion), tight and dysfunctional hips, a weak butt, increased risk for low back pain, and even more knee instability than you may have been born with.

Doing single leg exercises such as this one, can reduce risk for injuries for women in three different ways. First, it awakens the body and exposes it to this knee instability in a safe and controlled manner. Training this exercise will help recruit the muscles in the hips, thighs, and lower legs that previously had not been used adequately and therefor were not working at full capacity. Second, doing this squat as shown creates a more “hip dominant” squat pattern that strengthens precisely the areas many women are weakest; the deep rotators of the hip, the glutes, and the hamstrings. Third, exercises like this performed on a single leg can help decrease the extent of asymmetries in strength or flexibility between the limbs. Asymmetry is a leading cause of non-contact related injuries, second only previous injury at the same joint.

11 Responses

  1. avatar

    I really appreciate this exercise demonstration, and explanation. The description fits me to a T! My hips are actually rotated 15% more than normal, and I have dealt with severe knee issues my entire life. Recently I’ve struggled with ITB and hip flexor problems. I have struggled to find single leg exorcises I can do that do not hurt my knees. Thank you for this new exorcise I will be adding to my work outs.

  2. avatar

    Where are the other 2 exercises?

  3. avatar

    Good explanation! I assume you meant Decend to the knee. :)

  4. avatar

    The description says to reach the opposite hand across the body, but the picture shows the hand on the same side. Which is the correct way?

  5. avatar

    Your explanation absolutely ROCKS! I was trying to explain to a 24 year old in my bootcamp group why it’s so important to work on strengthening and rehabbing a knee she blew out 4 years ago, and why one of her legs was so much more sore than the other. Now all I have to do is show her what you posted! Thanks Joe Di!

  6. avatar

    Oh my I felt like you were writing my bio. I have never heard any of this, and I’ve been to plenty of docs and PTs. I’m adding these exercises in immediately. Maybe I will actually be able to run with my box one day instead of always rowing. Thank you for writing this!

  7. avatar

    My knees have always been my holdout in my workouts and in trying to train more for running rather than walking. I have known since my early 20s late teens that my pelvis is tilted more.. This makes so much sense now. Even explains why even with knee issues I always feel better in heels!!

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