The lateral hip musculature (glute med/min, glute max, hip external rotators) is significantly important in providing strength and stability/control of the hips during dynamic movements such as jumping, sprinting, cutting, landing, and lifting weights. Besides improving performance they can also help prevent patello-femoral, ankle, hip, and lumbar spine issues. Put simple, the hips need a good amount of motor control and stability in order to improve performance and prevent injury. Lower body lifts are one of the ways to provide strength and stability for our athletes but there are also lower-level motor control movements that we implement to teach control and dissociation of the pelvis from the extremities. These are exercises such as glute bridges, lateral/backward/forward miniband walks, wall marches, as well as the warm-up which teaches multi-planar hip stability.
Lateral mini-band walks are one of the first movements that come to mind because we use it often for young athletes especially females since they tend to be at more risk because of their pelvic structure. Common mistakes I see with this exercise are that athletes lack the motor control or strength (or core control) to differentiate hip or pelvic motion from the rest of body. The lack of control creates for an inefficient pattern and negates the benefits of the movement. Check out the difference between the two and forgive me for the first gumby like video (I was trying to really exaggerate the faults)
- Notice how my feet almost touch each other after each step, my upper body is unstable, and my hips seems to hike up and down
The video is not far off from the “natural” way athletes perform the exercise. We want to keep the hips centered and use active muscular control in order to keep proper alignment.
- The nose, sternum, and “zipper” line all stay in a straight line while the back leg is providing a push off
- My feet start shoulder width and finish shoulder width which keeps tension on the band
- Drive with the knees out
- Focus on the quality of the movement first and progress to bigger or quicker steps
An addition to the lateral mini-band walk is a staggered stance (PRI thinking) that we have been incorporating with many athletes. We cue for them to (1) posteriorly tilt their pelvis (for those that are heavily extended), (2) shift the left foot back 6 inches (in line with either the R arch or heel) and push with the right arch. We only push to the left for this.