A Missing Link to Injury Prevention and Athletic Performance

Injuries will happen. There is no such thing as “injury prevention”. We can prepare ourselves and our athletes the best that we can, positively stress the body to be able to adapt and tolerate stress and load, but at the end of the day, sometimes load exceeds capacity and injuries happen.

But, through good training, recovery, etc., we can at least minimize the chances or refocus our thought process to be more towards “injury reduction” vs “injury prevention.

With that being said, when it comes to training and athletes preparing themselves for their respective sport, there is a missing link. That missing link is training in the frontal plane.

There are 3 planes in the body: Sagittal, Frontal, and Transverse.


More often than not, athletes train themselves in the gym in the sagittal plane, or movements consisting of forward/back. Movements such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc.

These movements are great movements and should be part of a well-structured strength and conditioning program. But, most sports don’t just happen in the sagittal plane. Then happen in the frontal and transverse planes.

If you look at most injuries, many of them happen in the frontal plane as well. If we train our body to produce and be able to absorb force in this plane, maybe that can help reduce the chances of injuries.

With all that being said, there are some exercises that appear to be in sagittal plane, but have a frontal plane focus OR are helping the athlete get stronger specifically in the frontal plane with lateral movement.

Offset Reverse Lunges

Key Points:

-Weight on one side is going to try and tip the athlete side to side. Try to remain upright.

Offset Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats

Key Points:

-Same as Offset Reverse Lunge. Try to stay upright and avoid your trunk and body moving side to side.

Suitcase Carries

Key Points:

-Hold a moderately heavy weight in one hand and walk.

-When walking, don’t let you body tilt side to side and remain upright

Modified Side Plank with Reach

Key Points:

-Maintain a straight line from ear to shoulder, hip and knee.

-Hold for 3 reps x 3 breaths per side.

Lateral Lunges

Key Points:

-Push hip back as you go to that side and slightly lean forward keeping back flat.

-Knee can come over toes, but make sure to push hip back as well.

Feet Elevated Side Plank

Key Points:

-Maintain a straight line from shoulders to feet.

-Don’t let hips drop below ankles and shoulders.

-Typically, we hold for 10 seconds per side and superset with another movement.

Lateral Sled Drags

Key Points:

-Stay facing perpendicular to the direction you are dragging the sled.

-Push off the ground through the foot and continue to move laterally.

Single Leg Drop Squat with Chop

Key Points:

-Finish the movement with slight knee bend and control your body from tipping over.

These are just a few movements to incorporate into a training program that can help an athlete be able to be strong and produce force in the frontal plane. As we mentioned before, most sports are multi-planar and many injuries happen in the frontal plane. Make sure to train your body to be strong and resilient to injury in the frontal plane.

Andrew Millett