Straight Leg Raises (SLR) – Supine
This exercise is intended as a strengthening exercise for the quads. It will work on increasing strength and control throughout the quad muscle group (Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius and Vastus Medialis Obliques). This exercise should be performed once you are confident with quad sets and other isometric quad exercises.
Why do this Exercise?
It allows for recruitment of all 4 quad muscles during the exercise. It is a good exercise to help provide feedback during early stage rehabilitation.
This exercise is to be performed while lying on your back (supine) or leaning on your elbows for support. 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 toes pointed straight up to the ceiling and your unaffected leg bent up to a 90° angle.
Concentrate on contracting/tightening your quad muscles, as in the quad set, so that 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. Lift your leg up to the point where your thigh becomes parallel to the unaffected legs thigh. 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.
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 quad strengthening exercises and return to SLR 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.