By Elizabeth Towe

Have you been trail running lately? Trail running is a nice change from the regular routine of road running giving your body a chance for different input. The uneven surface uses different muscles and requires more joint stability. 

Lateral hops are meant to improve your stability, particularly for trail running. In this exercise focus on pelvis, hip, and knee alignment over the foot as you strengthen the lateral muscles of the hip and leg. This is also a great exercise to improve reactive, dynamic, and functional neuromuscular efficiency. Since the goal is stability, ensure that with each landing you find your balance and a stable foot.



  • Begin in a stance on one leg with the standing knee and hip slightly bent. Your hands can be on your hips.
  • Laterally hop to the other foot, accelerating off the initial stance foot.
  • Land (softly and quietly) on the heel and foot and decelerate through the hip, knee and ankle joint. Pause only long enough to control the landing without touching the other foot down.
  • Repeat movement back to the other side.
  • Beginning tempo should be only as fast as you can control without touching the non-work foot down.
  • Repeat this back and forth, hopping 10-15 times per side. Rest and repeat 3 times on each side.
  • For progression you can: 1) speed up the tempo 2) make the lateral hop bigger and more powerful or 3) upon landing the hop, touch the opposite hand to the outside of the planted foot (you must squat lower to achieve this).

**It is important to do a dynamic warm-up before performing any plyometric (jumping) exercise. Dynamic warm-up can be as simple as skipping, jumping rope or jumping jacks for at least 3-5 minutes.

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Elizabeth Towe is a runner and a cyclist and the owner of Balanced Movement Studio in Carrboro. She graduated from East Carolina with a degree in exercise and sports science and has been personal training for over 20 years. Her ultimate goal for all of her clients is to help them realize and achieve the optimal quality in their life – and to remember to have fun doing it.