Care Tools: Fitness Center
Straight Leg Raises (SLR) – Abducted

General Overview:

This exercise is intended as a strengthening exercise for the Hip Abductors (Tensor Fascia Lata, Gluteus Minimus, Gluteus Medius). When used in conjuncture with the other straight leg raises (supine/prone/adduction) it allows for a well balanced approach to developing all the major muscle groups surrounding the knee and aiding in increasing knee joint stability.

Why do this Exercise?

To increase strength of the hip abductor muscles, to aid in increasing lateral (outside) knee stability and allow proper muscle balance surrounding the knee.

Detailed Description

This exercise is to be performed while lying on your side, the side of your unaffected knee (ex. right knee injured lie on left side). It can be performed on a floor, table or bed (the firmer the surface the better). You want to lie with your affected leg straight out in front of you with your foot parallel to the ground. Take your unaffected leg and either: a) bend it to a 90° angle and let your thigh support your affected knee from below or b) keep it straight out underneath your affected leg. Make sure that you maintain a side lying position and do not rotate/turn your body so that you are lying on your chest or your back. You may find it more comfortable to place your arm underneath your head for support.
Concentrate on contracting/tightening your outer thigh muscles with your knee is as straight as possible. While holding the contraction and keeping your leg straight, slowly begin to lift your heel/leg up off the floor. Focus on keeping your foot parallel to the ground; do not allow it to rotate outward causing your toe to point up towards the ceiling. Lift your leg up approximately 6 inches off the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then slowly lower your leg back down to the floor. Relax the muscles completely for 3-5 seconds and then repeat. You may find that when starting out this exercise you are only able to lift your leg off the ground a few inches, that’s OK. Repeat the exercise for 10-15 times, rest for 1 minute, and repeat 2-3 sets. This exercise should be repeated 1-2 times per day.

Additional Information:

This exercise should only be performed within a pain free range of motion. Do not continue this exercise if there is pain, swelling or a significant increase in skin temperature (skin becomes hot/warm to the touch). The recommended repetitions are here to serve as guideline. Keep in mind that each person is different and you must modify your activity according to the feedback your body provides. If you feel your muscles getting fatigued (a good thing) and you begin losing control (leg begins twitching) stop and return to the exercise at another time. Do not use quick jerky movements with this exercise; it is intended to be performed in a slow and controlled motion. If you are unable to keep your knee relatively straight and/or lift your leg up off the ground then do not progress to this exercise, work on other hip abductor strengthening exercises and return to it at a later time. You can monitor your feedback by monitoring your progression through the exercise on a daily basis. Are you able to keep your leg straighter, lift it higher off the ground and have better control throughout the motion? Also, compare it to your unaffected leg; this will help to give you a goal to set for yourself.
Learn More
About Recovery
This exercise is recommended for early stage rehabilitation of an injured or post-surgical knee.


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