Lateral Band Walking Exercise

This move strengthens the glute medius while improving hip and knee stability

Fitness woman doing exercise with rubber band
franckreporte/ GettyImages

The lateral band walking exercise looks (and feels) pretty strange, but it's actually the perfect way to improve hip stability, strengthen the hip abductors - particularly the gluteus medius - and increase stability of the knee joint.

As a part of a warm up routine, the lateral band walking exercise engages many of the deep muscles that stabilize the pelvis. Doing this exercise before working out can improve hip stability and knee joint stabilization.

This, in turn, improves overall body mechanics and movement efficiency during a workout or competition.

The lateral band walking exercise is particularly helpful for any athlete who engages in sports that require running, jumping, pivoting and twisting. You can find lateral, resistance bands in any sporting goods store.

Hip Stability Decreases ACL Injuries

A weak gluteus medius - one of the muscles on the side of the hip - can lead to problems in the knee joint. In fact, it's often the underlying reason for knee pain and injury, especially ACL injuries. A strong gluteus medius not only stabilizes the hip, but helps to maintain proper tracking in the knee joint by reducing lateral stress on the knee.

Performing the lateral band walking exercise protects the knee by training correct movement patterns at the knee joint so it doesn't cave in or out. Maintaining proper tracking is important when landing a jump safely.

Many experts believe improper knee movement biomechanics is one factor that explains why female athletes have a disproportional incidence of ACL injuries.

How to Do the Lateral Band Walking Exercise

In order for this exercise to be effective, you need to choose a resistance band with the right strength.

Band colors indicate the level of resistance and progress, from yellow (easy), to green (moderate), to blue (hard), to black (hardest). Most athletes are able to start with the green band and may or may not progress over time. If this exercise is too challenging for you, use an easy band.

After you acquire a resistance band, it's time to put it on and start walking:

  • Keeping the band flat, not bunched, place the band just above each ankle and wrapped around both legs. 
  • Position your feet shoulder width apart. The band should be taught, but not stretched.
  • Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to activate the gluteus medius.
  • Keep your feet in line with your shoulders and face forward with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet.
  • Maintaining the half-squat position, shift your weight over one leg and take a step sideways with the other leg. Move this leg in and out, sideways, for 8 to 10 reps.)
  • Keep your hips level during the movement. Try not to bounce up and down or sway side to side.
  • Slowly shift your weight and switch legs.
  • Do another 8 to 10 side steps.

With this exercise, it helps to maintain a low, forward-facing posture. Avoid titling the hips up and down or sideways. If you're doing it correctly, you should feel it in your gluteus medius. Your hips will be on fire!

If you're having trouble doing the lateral band walking exercise, you may need to start with a less intense gluteus medius exercise, such as the side lying hip abduction, which targets the gluteus medius. Another good exercise to incorporate into your warm up and help fire the hip stabilizers is the side plank. Add these two moves to your warm up routine if you're having trouble targeting your hips.

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