Whether recovering from an injury or simply looking to eliminate asymmetries and enhance function, I often utilize single leg reaching progressions. The ability to balance and reach in a dynamic manner while avoiding medial knee collapse (valgus) is a challenging task. Using a cone while dynamically reaching on one leg provides a more unstable environment and promotes motor learning.
Using gravity and a person’s body weight is a great way to train in a proprioceptive manner, and cone reaches are a ‘go to’ exercise progression in my rehab and prehab routines.
Begin standing on one leg and slowly reach both hands forward and down toward the cone. Allow the free leg to move behind you and keep the stance heel on the ground. Lightly touch the cone at the bottom and return to the full upright position each time. Perform 10 repetitions and repeat on the other side. Repeat for 2-3 sets.
Be sure to keep the knee tracking over the second toe. I often cue clients to imagine a laser beam pointing out from the center of the kneecap and over the second toe as a cue. Or, cue them to point the knee at twelve o’clock. Discourage any excessive valgus or hip internal rotation/adduction during the movement, and watch for overpronation as well.
The exercises can be done in front of a mirror to offer visual feedback. Additionally, I will place my hand to provide kinesthetic feedback to encourage the proper movement pattern as needed.
1. Alternate hand anterior reach
2. Ipsilateral cone reach
3. Crossing cone reach
If clients struggle with limited mobility or stability, simply start by using a taller cone or other object they can reach toward while maintaining heel contact with the ground and good form. You may also opt to stand closer to the cone or simply reach part of the way down.
This exercise offers several benefits including: strengthening the entire lower chain, increased proprioception, improved dynamic stability, improving ankle mobility and reducing injury risk (e.g. cueing away from medial knee collapse). It is appropriate for all ages and abilities and serves as an excellent way to assess and train single limb balance and stability. This type of training is also very effective for runners and athletes participating in cutting/pivoting sports.