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Lateral movements are motions in which you move from side to side while facing forward. Exercises that step sideways are done in the frontal plane of movement and require your limbs to abduct, or move away from your midline; and adduct, or move in toward your midline. Side-stepping exercises help you develop spatial awareness, balance, strength and flexibility.
Traveling Lateral Lunges
A side-stepping lunge is called a lateral lunge. It strengthens your quadriceps, hamstrings, low back and gluteal muscles; improves inner thigh flexibility, challenges balance, uses ankle, knee and hip joints and requires kinesthetic, or body position, awareness. Try lateral lunges by starting in a tall stand with your hands on your hips. Step sideways with your left foot and bend your left knee. Keep your right leg and spine straight as you angle your torso forward and push your buttocks back over your left heel. Push to standing with your left leg and glute muscles. Draw your right foot in beside the left foot. Travel two lateral lunges to the left and two to the right. Continue until your leg muscles burn.
Stretch-Band Side Step
The stretch-band side step exercise strengthens your hips and outer thighs. The stretch band adds resistance as it stretches and becomes tighter. This additional resistance challenges your muscles. Find a long resistance band and stand tall on the middle of it. Firmly hold the ends in each hand. You should feel tension in the band from the start. Step your right foot out to your right side, stretching the band. Bring your left foot in while resisting the band tension. Continue stepping right four to six times. Reverse and step your left foot to the left, stretching the band. Draw your right foot in while resisting the band. Continue stepping left four to six times. Repeat the sequence on each side until your muscles burn.
Use a step platform for side-stepping exercises to provide a cardiovascular element to your toning. Moving over the top sideways will also develop your spatial awareness. Locate a step platform that measures 6 to 8 inches high. Stand sideways to it with your right foot just a few inches away. Step up with your right foot. Follow by stepping up with your left foot. Travel over the top of the stepper by stepping down on the other side with your right foot, leaving room for your left foot to follow. Tap the left foot down on the floor beside the right one. Immediately lift your left foot up and reverse the motion by traveling sideways up and over the step to the left, leading with the left foot.
The straddle-down exercise strengthens your quads and glutes while challenging your cardiovascular system. Use a 6= to 8-inch platform and stand on top with your feet parallel to the long sides. Step your right foot sideways and down to the floor. Then, step your left foot sideways and down to the floor. You will now be straddling the platform. Step your right foot back up to the top followed by your left foot. Reverse the exercise by leading down with your left foot. Continue alternately stepping down and up until you fatigue.