Updated: Aug 17, 2021
The pistol squat is an incredible way of building unilateral strength in the body. Trying this single leg squat may very well highlight mobility restrictions, imbalances or mechanical problems that you weren't aware of in your normal squat, a bilateral movement.
Working unilateral exercises is a great way to create a balanced functional foundation for everyday life. We all have one side of our body that’s more dominant than the other, like the leg you would automatically kick a ball with or the arm you write with. It’s so important to incorporate unilateral work into your training to make your body as strong as possible as this will help to even out imbalances and prevent injury.
Besides that, it’s equally as important to try performing everyday tasks on your non-dominant side. Try switching shoulders when carrying a bag or even practise writing in the opposite hand. If anything it’s a great way to keep the brain actively challenged.
ANKLE DORSIFLEXION TEST
This is an effective way to test your ankle range in dorsiflexion. Stand in front of a wall, keeping your heel down and send your knee towards the wall. Repeat this motion, moving the foot further back each time and measure the maximum distance you can reach between the wall and the foot. Test both sides and notice if there’s a difference between the two. If there is, maybe one side is tighter from an old injury. If both sides are tight it could be down to your foot wear.
I’ve always run around barefoot for as long as I can remember and this has been hugely beneficial regarding the range I have available to me. If you’ve spent a lot of time in high heels you may find this has negatively impacted the range of motion in your ankles. We also want to consider the musculature around your joints such as the calves and shins.
Here are three mobility tools you can use to check in with your body and help open it up a little.
Plate on Knee - Keep your heel down and with the bumper plate on the thigh, draw the knee forward over the toes. This is best to do without foot wear to work through your true range. If the heel comes up you are defeating the point of this mobilisation.
Banded Ankles - Place the resistance band around your ankle and come in to a lunge away from the rig upright to create enough tension. Draw the knee forward over the toes keeping the heel down.
Foam Roll calves - Move around side to side, circling the ankle when you come across really tight areas in the calves. You can place your other leg on top to add extra pressure.