A recent study sought to examine the effect of band position on hip muscle activation during resisted side stepping (or crab walks).
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STUDY: Hip-Muscle Activity in Men and Women During Resisted Side Stepping With Different Band Positions – Lewis et al 2019
Study reviewed by Stephen King
Background and Objective
- An exercise often used to target the hip musculature is lateral side stepping with an elastic band secured around the lower extremities.
- To date, only one study has examined muscle activity during resisted side stepping with the elastic band placed around different anatomic locations.
- The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in muscle-activation between men and women as they performed resisted side stepping using 3 elastic-band locations.
- Participants side-stepped with a resistive band wrapped around the lower limbs in 1 of the 3 tested band positions: around the knees, ankles, or feet.
- Muscle-activity data were obtained using a surface electromyography (EMG) system
- Moving the band from the knees to the ankles significantly increased activation of all three muscles – gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and TFL.
- Moving the band from the ankles to the feet increased activation of the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, but not the TFL.
- The authors proposed that when the band is moved from the ankles to the feet, the band pulls the distal part of the feet toward each other, creating an internal-rotation torque. This is countered by the gluteal muscles which generate an external-rotation torque to keep the foot and the lower limb pointing forward during the side-step motion.
- There was no standardisation for the intensity of the band used.
- Similarly, the choice of step length was not standardised for limb length and height which may have led to less band stretch between males and females.
- Moving the band to around the feet might be a good strategy to maximise gluteal activation without further increasing TFL activation during crab walks.
- When performing this exercise for strengthening, we should also look to ensure the intensity is high enough to elicit strength changes. Traditionally these exercises are often underloaded and appear to may have also been so for the male population in this study.
- This exercise and changes to band positioning appear to be a good inclusion as part of a well-rounded strengthening program and can provide some nice variability to the more traditional versions of the side-stepping banded walk exercises.
- From this study we do not have any indication of how patients with injury or pain will respond to this type of band positioning and if they will display similar activation and movement patterns.