Everyone know’s if they are right- or left-handed. Many older people are unsure if they are right-or left-legged. The way I approach it is this: If I were to roll you a ball, which leg would you kick it with? Or, which leg do you step up with first when climbing stairs? We all have a stronger and more dominant side- an arm, hip and leg that is stronger than the other side. The main muscle(s) responsible are the gluteus medius (and surrounding muscles in the hip)-when the difference is very pronounced, it can cause a side-to-side gait, which is very unstable, and can lead to falls and muscle strains. For me personally, my weak side is my left. When I stand on my left leg, it only takes a few seconds to start wobbling, but I’ve gotten better. How? I really focus on strengthening my weak side with several different exercises. One of my favorites is the tennis ball toss. When I have a partner, I stand four giant steps from my partner and toss the ball to each other while standing on one leg, then the other. If I’m alone, I stand four feet from a wall and toss the ball against it, catching it about waist-high. Another is the straight dead-lift, which strengthens the gluteus and hamstring muscles. To do this exercise, stand up straight, with feet a little wider than shoulders. Legs are straight, but knees are not locked. Place your hands n your thighs (gently), and slowly run your hands down the front of your legs until you reach your knees, shins, or ankles; wherever you feel a tension in the back of the legs. Your back should be flat, your head in line with your back. Slowly return to the starting position. Do four sets of 10 repetitions throughout the day. I also take the stairs, leading with my weaker leg, and try to brush my teeth, wash my hair, putting my clothes on the opposite side first, and do many of the other daily chores using my non-dominant side. It can be slow progress, and frustrating at times, but I am getting better. I’ve seen these exercises work well with my seniors-give them a try. Presently, I’m having a little difficulty with my YouTube account. When I get it corrected, I’ll shoot off a little video.
Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.