Did you know?

You Have a Dominant LEG, Too!

by Meaghan posted June 6, 2010

When I begin single-leg training with clients, they often realize that one leg is a bit weaker and less stable than the other (with right-handed people, the right leg is usually the weaker one). For some reason, this usually comes as a surprise, and they view it as problematic. In fact, we all rely on this phenomenon – especially athletes.

Here’s what happens when we try to deny it:

That’s almost as embarrassing as McDonald’s, Budweiser and Coca-Cola sponsoring the World Cup. In any case, soccer (“football”) players like Rio Ferdinand and Edson Buddle wouldn’t do their teams much good either without one-side dominance in the lower body. They consistently kick their most powerful shots with the same leg, and with good reason.

In training, I typically try to illustrate to people that having a dominant leg is perfectly normal by saying, “You aren’t worried that your left arm is weaker than your right.”

They usually reply, “Well, no…I’m right-handed.”

“Well, you’re probably left-legged!”

And then they get it… I think.

While it’s sometimes good to try to correct asymmetries in the body, it’s also important to know that just as you have a dominant arm, you also have a “stance” leg with superior function, and this will probably always be the case. And usually, it’s the leg on the opposite side of your dominant arm because your body works in reciprocal patterns between upper and lower halves. 

Take tennis, for example. Your opposite leg is planted as your dominant arm hits the ball: 

Don’t think Francesca Schiavone would have won the French Open without using her more stable stance leg to her advantage. 

Same is true in baseball: You naturally step with your opposite leg as your dominant arm winds up to throw. This is the most efficient way to transfer force. Without this asymmetry, pitchers wouldn’t be nearly as effective. Just ask Armando Galarraga: 

Hmm… So maybe he didn’t throw a perfect game after all. Not sure I agree with that call, but I do agree that we should lay off Jim Joyce! Umps have it rough. I definitely complained about a blown call or two when I played, but it really must suck being the only one in the game who can never win.

Anyway… One-side dominance in the lower body is largely neurological (just as it is in the upper body), and it isn’t only athletes who have asymmetries. Outside the gym, we all naturally use our dominant arms and legs more often because it’s more efficient and makes our lives easier, even if we don’t realize it. Training can help reduce imbalances in strength, but your dominant side is always going to be slightly more coordinated and thus a little stronger than your non-dominant side, even when it comes to your legs.

And now you know!

Filed under: Did You Know?, sports

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