The Prone Straight Leg Raise Exercise

An Important Component of Your Hip or Low Back Exercise Program

If you have back pain or hip pain, you may benefit from physical therapy to help improve your mobility and manage your symptoms.  One component of your rehab may include performing exercises to help improve the strength of your low back muscles and your hips.  This can help improve the way you walk or may aid in attaining and maintain proper posture.

One important exercise that may be a part of your spine, hip, or lower extremity rehab is the prone straight leg raise (SLR) exercise.

 This exercise is simple to perform at home as a part of your home exercise program.  It is a strengthening exercise that works the gluteal muscles of your hips and your low back muscles.

Some common problems where you may benefit from performing the prone hip SLR exercise during your rehab include:

The prone SLR exercise also helps to improve your hip extension active range of motion (ROM).

Performing the prone straight leg raise exercise is simple to do.  Remember to check in with your physical therapist or doctor before starting this, or any other exercise.

To perform the prone SLR exercise, start find a suitable place to lie down that is free from obstructions.

  • Lie face down (prone) on the floor.
  • Gently tighten your core muscles by keeping your abdominals engaged. You should still be able to breathe while doing this.
  • Keeping your abs engaged and your knees straight, slowly lift one leg up backwards.  You should keep your knee straight as your thigh lifts from the floor.
  • Hold your straight leg up in the air for 2 seconds, and then slowly lower your leg back to the floor.  Be sure you do not rotate your back or your pelvis while lifting your leg.
  • Repeat the exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions, and then repeat the exercise for the opposite leg.

Some people like to alternate their leg raising during the prone SLR, especially when performing the exercise as part of a lower back rehab exercise program.  Performing the exercise may cause a slight increase in low back discomfort.  If the exercise causes any acute or sharp increase in low back, hip, or leg pain, stop performing it and check in with your healthcare provider or physical therapist.

You can perform this exercise once or twice daily, and it is a good idea to check with your PT to check on the frequency of the exercise for your specific condition.  You can also add more challenge to the prone SLR by adding a 1 or 2 pound cuff weight to your ankle to increase the amount of resistance when performing the exercise.

Low back, hip, or leg pain may be caused by many different factors.  If your physical therapist determines that you may benefit from strengthening your gluteal muscles and low back muscles, he or she may prescribe the prone straight leg raise exercise to help you improve the strength of your hips and the stability of your lumbar spine.

Source: Kisner, C., & Colby, L. A. (1996). Therapeutic exercise: Foundations and techniques. (3 ed.). Philadelphia: FA Davis.

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