Life In The Lateral Lane
Better Motor Control With Medicine Ball Lateral Lunges
Most gym activities are front to back movement patterns. We call this sagittal plane training. Running, elliptical training, and biking, all are predominantly sagittal plane activities. In athletics and daily activities, a great deal of movement is side to side or frontal plane movement. Most of the motor control issues we find in physical therapy and fitness clients involve poor control of side to side (frontal plane) movement patterns. The lateral lunge with a medicine ball is a simple exercise that will resolve many of these problems. Read the rest of this article and watch the video.
Medicine Ball Lateral Lunges: I like fitness activities that develop multiple components of human performance and create a lot of benefit for the time spent training. Lateral lunges improve balance, core stability, and single leg strength, and when a medicine ball is used it reinforces the connection between the shoulders and hips. Lateral lunges teach the muscles on the inside and outside or the hips to work together as a team. These muscles are often weak in individuals that have knee and lower back pain. Poorly functioning hip muscles are implicated in higher injury rates in athletes and are the drivers of recurrent back pain.
Go easy on the load–start out with a light medicine ball. Once you develop mastery of a graceful lateral lunge with a solid single leg stance, you can increase the weight of the ball. Assume an athletic stance–ankles, knees, and hips slightly bent. Hold the medicine ball at chest level. For a right lunge keep the left foot firmly planted on the ground. Do not let the bottom of the foot lift off the ground. Step out to the side with the right leg and at the same time reach the medicine ball forward. Let the right leg bend at the ankle, knee, and hip. Push back up off the right leg and bring the medicine ball back to the starting position. Balance on the left leg for two counts and then repeat the lunge to the right. Perform five to ten repetitions to the right, rest and then perform a set to the left. You may find that lunging with one leg is much steadier and stronger than the other. Perform an extra set on the weaker leg to train away the deficit in your performance.
Medicine Ball Lateral Lunge Training Progressions:
- Forward medicine ball reach.
- Medicine ball reach to the floor.
- Medicine ball floor to overhead.
View video of these exercises and progressions here
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS