Side steps with a resistance band
March 30, 2017 | by Molly Gries PT, DPT, OCS, CertMDT

This is the third article in a series from physical therapist Molly Gries who is training for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Gries will focus on phases of marathon training from planning to recovery. In this article, she focuses on incorporating strength training into your marathon plan.

“I’m running so much already why is strength training important?”

Stretching and strength work can make you a stronger runner by supporting your training miles with exercises that minimize injury. I focus on options that require minimal equipment and can be done outside of a gym, such as lunges, plank and side-to-side steps.


Forward and backward lunges help steady your single-leg stance.

Take a look as Molly demonstrates how to do a proper lunge.

Tips for a Proper Lunge:

  1. Keep your bending knee in line. It should not go inward or over your toes. Your knee will go toward the ground but should not touch it.
  2. Maintain good posture with your shoulders back and chin up.
  3. Engage your core.


Planks are an all-around great core strengthening exercise. A plank is essentially a static hold. You can modify for intensity or previous injury. Aim to hold planks for 30-60 seconds at a time, gradually increasing your hold time.

Molly demonstrates how to perform a plank and side plank.

Tips for Plank Form:

  • Keep your chin tucked.
  • Look down at your hands.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Keep your shoulder blades done and back.
  • Don’t arch your back.

Have sensitive wrists? Try a forearm plank instead. You’ll get similar core benefits without straining your wrists by holding your body up with your forearms. You can also try lowering down to your knees instead of extending to your toes.

Side planks

The key with a side plank is to stay horizontal without bending at the hips. Extend your stacked legs outward with one elbow directly under your shoulder. Don’t rotate forward and keep your hips up.

Resistance Band Stretch

Resistance bands come in different colors. The strength correlates with different colors. The lighter the band, the easier the exercise. The darker the band, the greater the intensity of the exercise. If you don’t have a darker band, but would like additional challenge, increase the reps with the light band.

Molly demonstrates how to perform a side step with a resistance band.

Side-to-Side Step

Put the band around ankles and loop hip distance apart. Your goal is to side step with the band.

Take a step with one to the right, making sure your toes are turned inward. Bring your feet together. Try going to the left. It’s important to go both directions to strengthen both glutes equally. Make sure to keep your body upright and try not to tilt forward.