Why is Single Leg Sit to Stand an Important Exercise For Runners?

You may have heard from one of your physios of the exercise called the “sit to stand.”

It’s a very standard exercise where you are told to stand up from a regular height chair properly then asked to sit back down – slow and controlled – without flopping back into the chair. Then the physio starts progressing the exercise until they tell you to do the same but on a single leg.

So why are they telling you to get up off a chair with one leg and sit back down? How is this practical? When are you ever going to have to get up then sit back down using one leg? They keep talking about this magic 22 number (read on to find out what this is!) but what does it mean?

Here is why:

  1. Running Biomechanics 

When we run we are always on one leg, never two. So, if you cannot withstand holding your own weight doing a single leg sit to stand how are you supposed to handle 1km of it? Sure, it requires a bit more muscle strength to get out of a chair since you have to get into a lower squat than while running, but this will just make you a more resilient runner.

  1. Injury Prevention   

If you are running with your knee caving in or your hip out or dipping this can lead to injury in the future. By doing a simple single leg sit to stand test until fatigue, we can see where muscles start to fatigue and misalignment starts to happen.

  1. Healthy Knees 

An article by Culvenor et. al (2016) shows that those after a common knee surgery called “Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction” showed better knee health 3 years after the surgery. These subjects were able to do 22+ single leg sit to stands, while subjects who could not perform at least 22 reps scored significantly less for overall knee health. (1)  

So who wants to try some single leg sit to stands? Here are some progressions from beginner to expert:

  1. STS (double legs)no hands from chair (48cm height)
  2. Staggered leg STS. In this exercise, your back leg is the one with all the weight while your front is only used for balance (10-20% weight)
  3. Staggered leg STS from leg on block. The leg that is on the block is the one in front, and now you have to challenge yourself by only putting 0-5% weight through that leg and using your back one.
  4. Single leg STS. With one leg up, get up off the chair and back down slowly on a single leg. Watch your knees so they don’t cave in or go past your toes!!

Check out the video below to watch Paulina perform the exercises in real time:

Now you have a try!! Click here for a printable guide to perform theses exercises. If you are experiencing pain, or need assistance from a physio, be sure to call us at 8599 9811 or book in for an appointment HERE.

By Physiotherapist, Paulina Backiel

  1. Culvenor AG, Collins NJ, Guermazi A, Cook JL, Vicenzino B, Whitehead TS, Morris HG, Crossley KM. Early patellofemoral osteoarthritis features one year after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: symptoms and quality of life at three years. Arthritis care & research. 2016 Jun;68(6):784-92.