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How to Do a Side Leg Raise Exercise

Learn how to do side leg raises in this Howcast video about physical therapy exercises for the knees.


Hi. My name is Eric Sampson, and I want to speak a few minutes about doing a side leg raise and why it is so important for not only your hip and your back, but also for your knee.

First of all, your knee, you have muscles on all four sides of your knee. So it's important to have a good balance of strength and flexibility on all four sides of your knee. We typically are working on the front and back at the gym and also with our functional day. But we need to really concentrate on the inner and outer muscles, and right now we'll talk about the outer.

The other reason why it's important is the stronger your hip and your gluteus muscles are--which is the muscle you'll be working on in the exercise--it'll actually act as an absorber of your force as you're landing on the ground or out running or doing stairs or even just simply walking. Basically, the stronger the hip area is, the better it will take on some of the weight and some of the load, and it's just a little less stress on your knee.

The key to the exercise is the technique. I see it often done at the gym and in the clinic a little incorrectly. The problem is that the front of the thigh muscle, the quad muscle is often a little bit stronger than the back, the hamstring. So as the patient lifts the leg up, the leg tends to come a little forward as a result, and that's what you have to be careful with. You want to be able to lift it straight up and see your foot going straight up. And the target muscle is going to be right here in your hip. The goal is to lift it about 12 to 18 inches off the ground or off your other leg and come right back down. All right.

And as an exercise progression, you want to do it about two to three sets of ten on alternating days. Give yourself a little rest break in between, and as you're getting a little bit stronger, you can add some ankle weights, which would be a very, very simple way to progress the exercise.

One more time, you're going to come straight up. You're going to make sure this is the muscle you're targeting, and you're coming right back down.

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