Lateral Step Downs

Purpose

Lateral step downs strengthen the muscles of the hip and leg and encourage unilateral stability and control, which is good for balance, walking, and stair negotiation.

Set up

Stand on a step facing the handrail or a stable surface such as a countertop so that one foot is firmly on the step while the other is hovering off the edge of the step. Think about lengthening through your spine and standing tall, pushing the heel towards the ground before you begin. Make sure both feet are on the same step to start. Both toes should be pointed forward, in the same direction you are facing.

Movement

Step so that one leg is hovering off the edge of the step while the other one stays firmly on the step. Slowly lower your leg towards the ground, hinging at the hips. Lower the foot to the ground but do not put weight through it, then return to the starting position.

Tips

  • Do not round the spine as you lower.
  • Control the movement with the standing leg.
  • Keep your hips even throughout this exercise -- do not let one drop to the side as you lower the leg.
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