Hip stability is super important for runners. But, how do you know if you are proficient in this area without paying a healthcare professional a costly amount of money for an evaluation? Easy! You complete the lateral step down assessment…
The lateral step down is a very simple movement that you can use to build strength, stability, and balance that carries over to running. Or, it can provide insight into how well you are positioning the body on a single leg which relates to the initial foot strike and mid-stance phases of gait.
How to complete the lateral step down assessment…
- Find a box or stair that is approximately 4-8 inches in height
- While balancing on the platform, lower down until the non-stance leg touches the ground
- Make sure to do so slowly and lightly touch the heel to the ground
- Rise back up to the starting position
- Assess if one or more of the following things happen:
- Inability to maintain balance and complete the movement for 10 repetitions
- Shifting or tilting of the body over the stance leg
- Inability to lower all the way to the ground
- Noticeable loss of the levelness at your pelvis (drop on the non-stance side)
- The hip internally rotates and therefore the leg does not stay aligned
- Inward collapse of the knee and therefore the leg does not stay aligned
- Collapse of the medial arch and flattening of the foot
- Record the results
- Complete on the other side
When performing the lateral step down, there are two different positions which could be valuable to assess. The first being more of a hip-dominant position where you slightly sit back into the hip and lower down. The second is with a vertical posture that allows the knee to travel over the toes. Both of these can provide important information on how well you stabilize in a hip versus knee-based strategy.
Want to learn more about hip stability and how to complete the lateral step down assessment? Click the video below to watch the assessment in action before trying it for yourself.
I hope this article helps you determine if more attention needs to be placed on improving lower extremity stability and balance with the lateral step down. For runners, this can shed some light on how efficient you are on one leg.
If you noticed one or several of the positive signs outlined above, make sure to add single leg training into your routine to resolve this weak link. As always, please comment below or reach out directly with questions.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART