Matt Phillips is a Running Injury Specialist & Video Gait Analyst at StrideUK & Studio57clinic in Sussex. You can follow Matt on Twitter: @sportinjurymatt
TARGET MUSCLES: Gluteus medius and maximus
SETS & REPS: 8 side steps (out & back) x 5
TEMPO: Slow and controlled
FREQUENCY: Include in your two strength sessions a week
If you experience pain when performing crab walks, get your technique checked. Though there is no one optimum way of performing these, a sports therapist or physiotherapist will be able to find a version best suited to you. As always, if in any doubt get checked out.
Crab walks can be an excellent way to strengthen the glutes in a functional, weight bearing position. Using an appropriately tensioned resistance band, keeping the knees externally rotated works the glute maximus, whilst stepping outwards (abduction) against tension works the gluteus medius. By making sure the resistance band stays stretched throughout the exercises, the glutes on both legs will get a thorough work out, so make sure you do not overdo these when starting out. Five trips out and back of approximately eight steps is generally enough to let you know about it the next morning!
1 Place a resistance band just above the knees tight enough so it stays up by itself. For most makes of resistance band, the colour denotes the degree of tension. Your goal is to use a tension that causes fatigue by 8 steps. As you get stronger (i.e. when can do more than 5 x 8 steps) you will need to progress to a different colour band.
2 Open the legs to slightly wider than hip width apart and turn the feet outwards. Now stretch the band by rotating the thighs outwards, so that your knees are in line with your feet. In doing so, you should feel the glute muscles contract. Raise the arms to help counterbalance (or to hold a weight if appropriate).
3 Keeping the knees rotated outwards and tension on the band, lower yourself into a slight squat position, sticking your bottom out behind you as if you were about to sit down.
4 Keeping your upper body still (imagine you were holding a tray of drinks), take a half step sideways against the resistance of the band. Make sure the other leg stays still, pushing out against the band.
5 Now take a half step inwards with the opposite leg, making sure that you do not step too far (the resistance band needs to stay tight).
6 Repeat this series of steps in a slow, controlled motion, ensuring the inner foot does not spring in, keeping tension in the band. When you have done eight steps in one direction, come back with the other leg leading. Aim for five, then increase distance or number.