Lateral movements often get overlooked, but these kinds of movements are actually the best way to prevent injuries and increase your athleticism. Lateral movements are the side to side movements you see in sports and are key to a healthier you.
Things like running, walking, cooking, weight lifting-these all happen forward to backwards. This is where we spend most of our time and can actually create deficiencies in our joints and muscles when we only train these movements on a regular basis. Lack of training lateral movements can result in knee injuries and other various sprained or torn ligaments.
The best way to avoid these deficiencies and strengthen any underused joint or muscle is obvious: train lateral movement.
Add these movements on to your weekly workout routines as a pre workout warm-up or post workout cool down. It will do wonders for your fitness training and longevity.
Here is a great place to start. Try to complete three rounds of 12-15 reps of the following:
Trains the obliques or the “sides” of your core musculature. Planks are a static movement. The goal is to resist breaking the side plank position. Whether you are positioned on your elbow or stacked on an extended hand, focus on maintaining a solid midline and touching your top hip to the ceiling. This will prevent any sagging on the working side. Hold for 10-15 seconds, gradually increasing as it gets too easy, repeat for 10-12 reps.
Side leg raises
These can be performed laying down or standing. If you’re looking for extra points, try these standing to challenge your balance. Standing on one leg, while activating your core, gaze straight out at a fixed point. Once you feel balanced, flex your foot (toes towards the shin, and pointed forward) and raise your heel as far up as you can until you feel a contraction on the outside of your hip. You can use a wall or chair for some extra balance. This exercise trains the outsides of the legs, strengthening and protecting the ligaments and muscles around the knee and hip joints.
Side Lunges/ cossack squats
This exercise helps with knee and ankle mobility. It trains outsides of legs, balance, stability, and ankle mobility. Begin with your feet together and step out with the right leg into a wide sumo stance. Begin to sit back putting all of your wait on your right leg as you send your weight down and back. Go as far as is comfortable. You can drive out on this leg back to a neutral standing position, then repeat on the left, or you can gently send your weight through the middle and lunge into the left side. This variation would be more like a cossck squat rather than a side lunge. Do what you are most comfortable with. While completing this movement, notice if your knee is tracking in line with your toe. If you can’t see your big toe on the inside of your knee, chances are you’re letting your knees cave it, which would not be great for your knee joints. When in doubt, grab a coach to get this one dialed in.
Lateral Box Step ups
Trains legs, core, outside of knees, insides of knees, ankles and balance. Stand on the side of a lower box, adjusting the height as necessary. Balancing on the outer leg, use your inner leg (closest to the box) to drive your weight and step up and onto the box, leaving your outside leg to float at the top, then slowly lower onto the outside leg and step down off of the box. Start at a low height and work up to a place you feel challenged, but secure.
Lateral movements are important to incorporate into your workout routines. If all else fails, grab your weightlifting partner and turn up the Cotton Eye Joe.
Happy side stepping!