Friday, March 27, 2009

Everyday Exercise 4: Socks

How important is the ability to stand on one leg? You might think that it isn’t too important, unless you practice yoga or sleep like a flamingo.

There’s a moment when your entire weight is held by one leg every time you take a step. When people lose this strength they start to shuffle. Weight bearing on one leg is obviously necessary to go up or down stairs. Also, when you lose the strength to stand on one leg, you lose your overall ability to balance.

I practice my “single leg stance” skills when I put on my socks in the morning. The challenge is to stand on one leg, lift the other leg, keep my balance, and get the sock on. Sound easy? Actually, there are a few compensations to watch out for.

1) Try not to let the standing leg jut out to the side. By keeping the hip directly over the ankle, you will be strengthening your hip stabilizer muscles.
2) Try not to let the standing hip lift or fall. This will again strengthen the hip rather than relying on the low back.
(You can see that I do a little bit of both in the yoga Tree Pose photo. It’s easier to stay in line if you lift your bent knee straight ahead rather than out to the side.)

Important: stand right next to a wall or dresser so that if you lose your balance, you will not fall down. Also, on the days when your hip muscles are weak, you can let the wall have a little of your weight to make it easier.

Try it and let me know how it works for you. Also, what other ways do you have of strengthening one leg? Do you brush your teeth in Tree Pose?

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