Single leg squat – Proprioception, variation & load

In the video above is our take on the classic single leg squat assessment & exercise. Below is a short summary of the contents covered in the video.

This is a great example of the test being the exercise and the exercise being the test. Any variation is a different test or screening perspective than can then be analysed.

The single leg squat is a fantastic exercise for unilateral loading as well as being an integrated exercise for the ankle, knee and hip in a closed chain environment.

Pain/injury in any segment can have an effect on both the segment and other segments in the kinetic chain and it is important to integrate them when loading and applying varied movement.

Before comencing movement it can be valuable just to see someones level of aprehension of loading through the single leg. Kinesaphobia is common *Click Here*

Do you see:

  • Stiffening or hunching of shoulders
  • Nervous laughter or grimacing
  • Changes in breathing such as holding of the breath

Holding someones hands and offsetting load with a contralateral toe touch can be a great way to build confidence, interaction and trust. This can be slowly graded/phased out to a finger hold and then no hold.

We look in the video at three main components of the single leg squat

  • Proprioception
  • Varied movement
  • Unilateral loading



  • Single leg stand - Can they balance on the single leg?
  • Single leg stand (offloading contralateral toe touch) moving hip into different positions (ext/flex, int/ext rot)
  • Moving pelvis independantly (mostly!) of femur
  • Moving femur independant of pelvis. Progressing into smooth circle.
  • Single leg stand (no touches) and repeat above

Varied movement


All movements below should be performed without undue stiffness. The idea is not to remain rigid but have integrated movement in the whole limb.

Variation in reaches will be normal but should be within parameters that are not to wide or narrow. Repeatable skill is important but without being too rigid or wildly variable.

You can use simple video tools such as ipad to provide feedback on movement.

  • Simple vertical motion - Do you see twisting of pelvis to avoid loading in a certain way?
  • Moving opposite leg into different direction. Anterior and Posterior reach. Medial & Lateral reach. Internal and external rotation reaches. All the reaches would involve aan end range touch for added stability. Pelvis should follow. Increase leg reach range of movement to increase demand
  • Multi directional reaches with no touch. Adds increase load and stability challenge of controlling COM.



Loading may want to be performed before varied movement in some cases. Isometric loading can often be less aggrevating in acute or specific issues such as tendonopathy. This is where exercise reasoning and knowledge of pathology become useful!

  • Single leg with offsetting toe toch - Mini squat
  • Single leg with offsetting toe toch - Full ROM
  • Single leg (no touch) holding on to TRX or door frame
  • Single leg with added speed
  • Single leg with added external load
  • Vertical hop




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