Achieving Freedom Through Movement
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Exercising in 3 Dimensions

By Katie Albert, PT, DPT

With the arrival of warmer temperatures, the population of Chicago appears to grow by ten-fold. Overnight, scores of people transition from the hibernation of winter to enjoying the great outdoors! The lakefront path is packed with bikers, walkers, and runners alike. Evidence of 5k, marathon, adventure race, and triathlon training surrounds us with people exercising before and after work. Some even choose the great option of walking the 40 minutes home instead of taking the train for added exercise. We are all more than ready to move forward and assign Chi-beria to the depths of our memories!

But that is just it! All the activities listed above truly and literally are moving forward. Most activities we perform as humans involve front and back motions. However, if you look around, we live in a 3-dimensional world, and our bodies are constantly being bombarded with not only forward forces, but also sideways (lateral) and rotational forces. Are we sufficiently training our bodies to be able to efficiently react and perform in all 3-dimensions?

Despite the fact that our core and hip musculature are some of the most important muscle groups for performance and preventing injury, they are often the most neglected muscle groups in workouts. To create stability for the hip, knee and ankle, dedicate some workout time to these areas. How do you do that? Check out the exercises below to get a better understanding of what exercising in 3 dimensions looks like.

Lateral and Rotational Hip Strength and Core Stability:

  • Lateral band walking: With a band around your ankles, walk sideways keeping tension in the band throughout. Make sure to keep your hips level and toes pointing forward.  Click here to view a video.
  • Lateral lunging: Beginning with your feet together, take a large step sideways with your leading leg ending in a lunge position. Make sure to hinge your hips back to keep knees from going forward beyond the toes. Toes should be forward with knees in line with toes. Next, push off of the leading leg and return to starting position.  Click here to view a video.
  • Wall sit with band around knees: With a band around your knees, lean up against a wall with your entire back touching the wall. Feet should be hip distance apart with knees over toes stretching the band. Slide your hips down the wall until in a sitting position, and hold. Return to the starting position.

  • Side plank with repetition: Lying on one side, prop onto your elbow with both knees bent and stacked on top of each other. Press through the elbow and knee to bring yourself into a modified side plank. Return back to the starting position and repeat 10 times. Click here to view a video.
  • Half kneeling with overhead press: Start in half kneeling with one leg forward and one leg back. Your goal is to pretend like you are on a tightrope with the front foot in line with the back shin. *This takes practice, so start with the front leg out a little! With a 3 to 5 pound weight in one hand, perform an overhead press while maintaining balance throughout the motion.  Click here to view video.
  • Plank with knee to opposite shoulder: Begin in a plank on hands and toes. With core and gluteals activated, bring one knee towards opposite shoulder and return to starting position. Alternate between sides.  Click here to view video.


Whether you are a year-round runner, a weekend warrior, a lakefront walker, or a seasoned triathlete, cross training involving lateral and rotational movements is integral to efficient performance and maintaining pain-free participation.

PhysioPartners offers an Annual Physical Therapist Exam to help identify strengths and weaknesses with a critical eye towards preventing injury. Schedule your appointment today to see which of these exercises are best for you!