You may have watched somebody step side to side with a stretchy band around their legs on the Internet or the last time you were at the gym. Well, it’s actually a pretty effective exercise known as the banded side steps, famous for its butt lifting effect.
It is probably for this reason that the exercise has become commonly abused and poorly performed despite being really simple. Therefore, here’s what to do to ensure you get it right.
First, let’s go all the way back. The banded side steps are a form of squat exercises that incorporate resistance bands in its multiple variations.
As such, the exercise might take a bit of getting used to aesthetically as it’s not always the most ‘visually pleasing’. That said, it is more effective than regular squat exercises.
This is because resistance bands add a challenging element to the mix. The band induces tension which causes the muscles to work harder than they normally would.
In turn, it leads to an increase in effectiveness while doing the side steps. The resistance bands also increase the maximum voluntary isometric contraction in the gluteus medius.
Therefore, adding the resistance band increases the maximum potential muscle strength in the targeted area i.e., the knee extensions
HOW TO PERFORM THE BANDED SIDE STEP
- 1.First, place an elastic band around your leg. It is preferable that the band go around your ankle. It is also supposed to be tense in order to create resistance
- 2.With the resistance band still tight to your ankle, separate your feet to shoulder-width level. Ensure there is a slight bend in your knee and keep your chest up
- 3.Pause then take another step to the side this time with your left foot in the same direction as the right.
- 4.Repeat this action by taking small steps to the right and repeat on the left side
- Take about 10 to 12 steps to each side and alternate sides for about 45 to 60 seconds
WHAT MUSCLES DO BANDED SIDE STEPS WORK?
That said, banded side steps affect a glut of areas. These areas can be split into two categories namely: secondary and primary muscles
The primary muscles are the abductors and the glutes while the secondary muscles are the inner and outer thighs.
The abductors refer to the muscles that are located in and around the hip hence also known as hip abductor muscles.
The main function of these muscles is to give you the ability to stretch your leg away from your body’s midline
They are also what enable you to stand on one leg without your pelvis detaching from the femur.
The glutes refer to a set of muscles also connected to the pelvis and femur known as gluteus minimus, medius and maximus. They are what allow you to jump, run and walk
Other areas that the banded side steps target include the back and core
BANDED SIDE STEPS BENEFITS
Some of the benefits of doing banded side steps include:
1. STRONGER KNEE JOINTS
Increased muscle strength in a target area can only be good news for the surrounding regions. This is particularly true for the knee joint.
The gluteus medius happens to be a muscle on the side of the hips. In turn, there is a correlation in the strength of both areas.
This is because if you have a weak gluteus medius, then you are likely to have weak knee joints.
As such, the increased potential maximum strength of the medius is crucial to avoiding knee injuries and ailments.
Some of the injuries that can be caused by weak gluteus medius include ACL injuries which can take up to a year to recover from.
However, having a strong gluteus medius which can be facilitated by banded side steps, stabilizes the hip.
Consequently, a stable hip ensures that there is reduced lateral stress in the knee. This is particularly important for anyone engaging in moderate to extremely engaging physical activities.
Therefore, if you run, jump or twist, chances are you’re likely going to benefit from a strong medius if you do decide to try the banded side steps.
2. STRENGTHENS UNDERUSED MUSCLES
Unlike a lot of exercises, taking a step to the side leads to the utilization of a specific set of muscles. They are however not the kind of muscles you utilize on a daily basis when walking.
As such, there is a huge possibility that these muscles are likely to be underutilized as we often walk ahead, not sideways.
Banded side steps therefore provide much needed exercise to these set of muscles.
An act that ensures you have better balance, flexibility and better special awareness stemming from wholistic muscle engagement.
3. TREATING LOWER EXTREMITY INJURIES
Lateral side steps have long been a trusted exercise used by physical therapists to treat lower extremity injuries. As mentioned above, walking sideways uses a unique set of muscles.
What makes side steps special is that they force every muscle in the hip to move unlike forward steps.
This therefore restores stability and balance in the joints as the several muscles surrounding the affected area are all adequately exercised consistently.
ALTERNATIVES TO BANDED SIDE STEPS
1. CABLE HIP EXTENSIONS
This is a type of workout that targets the glutes and hip flexors. It also involves the hamstrings and lower back.
It involves principles similar to the banded side steps i.e., standing tall in front of a cable machine with a tight strap around your ankle.
2. PLANK KNEE TO ELBOW
This is an exercise that needs no equipment. It involves laying down, maintaining a tight core and flat back. It targets the abs, gluteus and hip flexors. Have a look at these great benefits that come with doing planks.
3. TWISTING JUMP SQUATS
This is an exercise that can be done at the comfort of your home. It activates the abs, glutes and hip flexors as well as calves, hamstrings and quadriceps.
BANDED SIDE STEPS MISTAKES TO AVOID
Good form is the most important part of doing an exercise. As such, in order to achieve maximum effect when performing this exercise, you should avoid doing the following things
1. TILTING YOUR HIPS
The goal of the exercise is to activate the gluteus and hip flexor muscles. Tilting your hips affects the effectiveness of the exercise as it remedies the strain the gluteus especially the medius should be under.
2. STRAIGHT KNEES
When doing the half-squat, the knees should be bent. Bent knees ensure that any unnecessary strain is not absorbed by the knee and is instead felt by the target area.
3. EXCESSIVE SWAYING
Banded side steps are an exercise that is precision-based. Therefore, excessive swaying can lead to taking focus off the target muscles and neutralize the effectiveness of your actions
Side steps are an easy-to-do exercise that can be performed anywhere no matter your age or gender.
That said, it is still a precision-based. Therefore, if you attempt the exercise, ensure that your form is correct in order to achieve maximum effect.