In continuum mechanics, lateral strain occurs when under the action of a longitudinal stress, a body will extend in the direction of the stress and contract in the transverse or lateral direction (in case of tensile stress). Strain is defined as the ratio of change in dimension to original dimension of a body when it is deformed. It is a dimensionless quantity as it is a ratio between two quantities of same dimension.
Different types of strain
When a sample of material is stretched in one direction, it tends to get thinner in the other two directions. Similarly, When a sample of material is compressed in one direction, it tends to get thicker in the other two directions. Lateral strain of a deformed body is defined as the ratio of the change in length (breadth of a rectangular bar or diameter of a circular bar) of the body due to the deformation to its original length (breadth of a rectangular bar or diameter of a circular bar) in a direction perpendicular to the force.