How to Do the Lateral Band Walk

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

lateral band walk

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Resisted side stepping, lateral squat walk with resistance band

Targets: Hip abductors, gluteus medius

Equipment Needed: Resistance band

Level: Beginner

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 warmup 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, foot, and ankle stability as well as knee joint stabilization. This, in turn, improves overall body mechanics and movement efficiency during a workout or competition.

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Watch Now: Increase Stability With The Lateral Band Walk

Benefits

The lateral band walking exercise is particularly helpful for any athlete who engages in sports that require running, jumping, pivoting and twisting. 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.

When you sit for long periods, the gluteus medius and other abductors can become weak and lead to certain types of pain, such as patellofemoral pain syndrome and iliotibial (IT) band syndrome. Keeping the abductor muscles strong and flexible is one key to preventing these problems.

Step-by-Step Instructions

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. You can find resistance bands in any sporting goods store or online.

  1. Keeping the band flat, not bunched, place the band just above each ankle and wrapped around both legs.
  2. Position your feet shoulder-width apart. The band should be taut, but not stretched.
  3. Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to activate the gluteus medius.
  4. Keep your feet in line with your shoulders and face forward with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet.
  5. 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 eight to 10 repetitions. Keep your hips level during the movement. With this exercise, it helps to maintain a low, forward-facing posture. Your back should be straight, not rounded.
  6. Slowly shift your weight and switch legs. Do another 8 to 10 side steps.

Common Mistakes

To get the most from this exercise, avoid these errors.

Hips Not Level

Avoid tilting 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.

Knee Position

In your half-squat position, keep your knees bent and aligned over the middle of your foot. This ensures you are targeting the right muscles and not straining your knees.

Swaying or Bouncing

Try to move smoothly without swaying or bouncing, which will take the focus off the desired muscles.

Modifications and Variations

You may want to do this exercise in different ways depending on your abilities and level of fitness.

Need a Modification?

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.

You can do the lateral walk without a resistance band for the easiest modification. Then progress to the band with the least resistance (yellow). There will also be less resistance on the band if you place it on your thighs rather than your ankles.

Up for a Challenge?

As you improve the strength of your muscles, you can use bands that have greater resistance. You can progress in this order: yellow, green, blue, black.

Another good exercise to incorporate into your warmup and help fire the hip stabilizers is the side plank.

Safety and Precautions

If you have any injury or condition affecting your hips, knees, or ankles, discuss this exercise with your doctor or physical therapist. You will feel your muscles working, and they may even burn after a few steps, but there shouldn't be any pain. End this exercise if you feel a sharp pain.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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