When I injured my right knee two years ago, it affected my entire body. Due to overcompensating during my recovery, I lost a ton of muscle mass, strength, coordination, and stability along my entire right side. Not only was my knee weak, but my ankle, foot, and hip were significantly affected as well.
I noticed during all my lifts, the barbell was leaning towards my weak side. My entire right side, head to toe, was not functioning properly. I had to do something about it!
I began training more unilaterally throughout my body. This means, doing each exercise with just one limb. This helps isolate that specific side, so you cannot compensate with the strong side. It’s a great way to identify which limb is weaker, and to balance out both sides.
The first exercise I started doing was the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift (RDL) during my warm-ups. I immediately felt the difference between my right and left side. My left side was strong, stable, and balanced. My right side was embarrassing! I could barely balance on one foot while doing them, and that was without weight!
I encourage anyone with prior foot, ankle, knee, or hip injuries to give this a try. Here’s how to incorporate them into your training…
2-3 times per week, as part of your warm-up, perform 5 Sets of 10 reps on each leg. Perform them smooth and controlled, feeling each and every position. Make sure your foot is flat on the floor, the knee is tracking directly in line with the toes, and only bend your knee just an inch or two. I recommend you do these on days you plan on performing lower body lifting or running workouts. Start off with no weight, but as you become more comfortable and gain strength, you can start adding light DB’s in your hands.
Here’s a YouTube video with a demonstration and coaching cues. Enjoy!