Runners and cyclists tend to move their body forwards when exercising. On the other hand, swimmers and weightlifters frequently move their body backward, especially when performing backstroke or reverse lunges. What about lateral movements?

While runners often incorporate lateral movement exercises into their cross-training workouts, many physical activities that people participate in to get fit do not require any lateral or side-to-side motion. Let’s see why you need to add these exercises to your workouts and how to incorporate them properly.

Why Do Lateral Movements Matter?

Moving side to side is simply not natural. As human beings, we move forward (and sometimes backward) led by our view. Furthermore, the environments we live in are now more controlled than it was the case in the past, as we are seldom required to move through space in different directions, unlike our ancestors.

You might be wondering why side-to-side motions are so important. Well, they are. Here’s what they can do for your body:

  • It can correct muscle imbalances and prevent injury. Forward movements, such as biking and running use much the same muscles, which particularly stress your quads, hamstrings, and calves. By stressing dominant muscles, you strengthen only particular groups of muscles while smaller stabilizer muscles don’t develop at all. That causes a muscle imbalance over time and often leads to injury. Lateral movement exercise is a good way to work the muscles on both the outside and inside of legs among others. It can also keep you injury-free by stabilizing your pelvis and hips.
  • It can help you get in shape and make you stronger. As stated above, it is important to work smaller muscles along with large dominant muscles. This way, you will double your workout effectiveness and get the most out of your body. This is where lateral strength exercises come in. It will firm and tone up your glutes as well as your inner thighs.
  • It can increase motivation for exercise adherence and help overcome boredom. Variety is always considered a good thing. It’s a good idea to occasionally make some changes in your workouts. Do different activities. For example, move in various planes of motion. That will help you beat boredom and keep you engaged.

How to Include Lateral Exercises In Your Workouts?

We have seen why lateral exercises matter. Now you need to find a way to perform them as an integral part of your workout routine.  

In fact, you can perform lateral movements in two ways as follows:

  • adduction – it involves bringing a limb back in, and
  • abduction – where you move limbs away from the body

These two kinds of movements can stabilize your dominant muscles and joints as well. You can include lateral movement exercises in just about any part of your workout, including warm-ups, the workout itself, and cool-down exercises after workout.

Yet they are especially beneficial when warming up before exercising. That will prepare your body for movements that are going to occur during your workout. You are advised to combine these exercises with warm-ups on a lateral trainer machine like Our Fitness Blueprint. You will be surprised by how you are getting in shape.