Single Leg Deadlifts (SLDL) are one of the most poorly executed movements out there! Yes, you can make the case for squats, deadlifts, bench pressing, etc. The list goes on. But if you walk into a commercial gym or fitness facility, if someone is performing a single leg deadlift, most likely it is not being executed properly.
If someone is not performing this movement well, there are a few technique flaws that are common to see.
1. Pelvic Rotation
2. Extension of the Low Back
3. Flexion of the Low Back
4. Knee Locked in Full Extension/Hyperextension
5. Poor Balance
Don’t get me wrong. Some of these abnormal movements for the single leg deadlift can be due to pure weakness in a particular area, but more often than not, it can be a technique issue that can easily be improved.
Here are 4 Tips to Help Improve SLDL form:
And can take focus off of the stance leg musculature and place increased stress on the lumbar spine.
If this is an issue, try placing a band with some tension on it around the non-stance leg shoulder.
-Place enough tension through the band to have it attempt to rotate you or your client.
-Don’t place so much tension where it is pulling the person over.
This technique is called “Reactive Neuromuscular Training” or RNT. I first learned about this drill from Dr. Dave Tilley at Shift Movement Science.
This can be a good drill to teach someone to maintain a neutral pelvis during the movement.
2. Extension/Flexion of the Lumbar Spine
Often times, clients or patients will have a tendency to either:
2. Flex through their lumbar spine.
Try performing a body-weight Single Leg Deadlift using a Dowel.
-Maintain contact between head, thoracic spine and sacrum through the entirety of the movement.
-If dowel loses contact from the head or sacrum, neutral spine position has been lost.
3. Extended/Hyperextended Knee
Some people will use an extended or hyperextended knee in order to make the movement easier or compensate for weakness or instability at the hip or core.
In a rehab setting, doing this movement with a knee fully extended can be beneficial post-operatively in order to improve terminal knee extension quad function. But, as someone progresses in the rehab process or is not in a post-operative rehab process, we want to avoid this position as it:
-Places increased stress on the capsule of the Tibiofemoral joint.
-Decreases muscle activation at the knee, hip, and trunk by compensating at the joint for stability.
To improve this extended/hyperextended knee position, try placing a band around the client or patient’s knee.
-Make sure patient or client is maintaining a slightly knee flexed, “unlocked” or “soft” knee position.
-Don’t place too much tension through the band where the person cannot maintain a slightly flexed position.
By placing the band around the person’s knee, this is a form of RNT as mentioned above. It is making the person conscious of avoiding an extended/hyperextended knee position so that they can maintain a slightly flexed position.
4. Poor Balance
Even if a client’s form looks good, balance can be the limiting factor when it comes to performing this movement. If someone can’t balance on one foot, then this will typically defeat the purpose of the exercise.
For some who has difficulty balancing during a SLDL, try these tips to get a training effect while maintaining a balance position.
-Only use enough of a hand hold to maintain your balance. The emphasis should still be on the legs.
-Too easy, progress to 1 hand hold.
There you have it! If you or your clients have difficulty performing a single leg deadlift, give these tips a try!
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