How This Helps

In case you have back pain or hip pain, then you might benefit from physical therapy to help improve your mobility and manage your symptoms. One component of your rehab could include performing exercises to help improve the strength of your lower back muscles and your buttocks. This can help improve how you walk or may aid in attaining and maintain proper posture. An important exercise that might be part of your spine, hip, or lower extremity rehabilitation is your likely straight leg raise (SLR) exercise. This exercise also called prone leg lifts or prone hip extension is easy to do at home as part of your home workout program. It's a strengthening workout that works the gluteal muscles of your hips and your low back muscles. Some common issues where you may benefit from doing the more likely hip SLR exercise throughout your rehabilitation include low back pain, as part of an accident prevention program to help improve back and hip strength and stability, after lumbar surgery, hip pain, after total hip replacement, or even as part of an SLR development after a knee operation.

What are prone leg lifts?

Prone straight leg raise exercise helps strengthen your spine, lower back, and the hip muscles. Commonly known as just prone leg lifts or prone hip extension, these exercises are simple to perform, and you can practice them from the comfort of your home itself. Including prone leg lifts in any home exercise routine will be helpful in strengthening the lower back muscles and the gluteal muscles of the hips. For women, this proves to be especially useful as it makes the legs and thighs stronger. This proves particularly helpful in women of childbearing ages. However, while prone straight leg lifts are highly beneficial, not many are aware of the correct way to do these leg lifts. Let us understand how to do these prone leg lifts correctly.

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Benefits of doing Prone Leg Lifts

The entire weight of our body above the pelvic region rests on the sacrum and sacroiliac joint, before being split between the left and right hip and legs. The sacroiliac joint is the joint present between the sacrum and the ilium or the left and right pelvic bones. [1] There is only one bone in both the right and left sacroiliac joints due to which both joints get affected in any type of medical condition. The sacroiliac joint is also involved in chronic lower back pain. [2]

Since the sacroiliac joints support the entire upper body's weight, the strongest ligaments in the body are also the ones that support and stabilize the sacroiliac joint. However, as we begin to age, the blood supply to the cartilage, ligaments, and connective tissues start decreasing. This is one of the leading reasons why professional athletes tend to retire at such young ages. [3]

With the aging limitations in mind, the purpose of the prone leg lift exercise is to increase blood supply to the sacroiliac joint and its connective tissues and ligaments. 

Here are some conditions that you may benefit from by performing prone leg lifts:

• Hip pain

• Lower back pain

• Speeding up recovery after lumbar surgery

• Faster healing and returning strength to the bones after total hip replacement

• This exercise can be made a part of your physiotherapy program after knee surgery

• It can be made an effective part of an injury prevention program for helping improve the strength and stability of the hips and back [4]

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How to do Prone Leg Lifts Correctly?

If you feel pain while doing leg lifts, then this means that you are doing them incorrectly. By knowing how to do prone leg lifts appropriately, you can reduce the pain and also start experiencing the many benefits of this exercise. 

Here are the steps to do prone leg lifts correctly:

1. Start the exercise by putting your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your arms and thighs perpendicular to the floor, extending straight upwards to your hips and shoulders. 

2. Keep your spine, hips, neck, and head aligned parallel to the floor. 

3. Squeeze the muscles of the lower abdomen and lift one knee. Now slowly extend the leg backward with your toes pointed until your leg is almost parallel to the floor. Remember to keep your knee straight as you lift your thigh from the floor. Make sure that while lifting your leg up, you do not rotate your pelvis or back. 

4. Hold the straight leg in the same position (in the air) for at least two to three seconds, and now slowly begin to lower your leg back to the original position on the floor. The knee should be touching the floor again. 

5. The leg lifts exercise should be performed slowly for at least 10 to 15 repetitions. 

6. Then repeat the same exercise with the opposite leg. 

Maintaining stability while doing the exercise routine is essential, and it can help benefit in relieving lower back pain. [5]

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Useful tips for doing Prone Leg Lifts

Recommendations to keep in mind while doing Prone Leg Lifts

Once you get comfortable doing the prone leg lifts and you are doing the exercise correctly, the next step is to start building up the number of leg extension you are doing on each side. It would be best if you tried to do at least 15 to 20 repetitions per leg per set. However, if you feel like you are getting exhausted, then take a break in between and resume the exercise again once you have regained your strength. 

However, if in between you notice that attempting to increase the number of repetitions and alternating the leg lifts causes pain, then you should decrease the number back to the repetition number that you were comfortable with. You should also be giving yourself a break of one minute in between each repetition to allow your body to recover. 

You should ideally be doing two sets of 10-15 repetitions of each leg in each session. Repeat the prone leg lifts at least three times a week, but make sure to give a gap of at least 48 to 72 hours between each session to allow some recovery time to your muscles. 

As you get completely comfortable with the prone leg lifts and want to challenge yourself further to achieve better benefits, you can try to do variations of the exercise. You can increase your challenge by adding one or two-pound ankle weight to increase the resistance you face while doing the exercise. You can also use a ball to perform leg lifts with a ball. Adding a resistance band can also increase the resistance and, at the same time, increase the challenge level. Using resistance bands while exercising also have other benefits for your health. [6]

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Summary

Several different factors may cause pain in the lower back, knees, legs, or the hips. If your pain tends to persist even after a couple of weeks, getting it checked out by a doctor is advisable. If your doctor determines that you may benefit from exercise for strengthening your lower back muscles and your gluteal muscles, then they are likely to recommend that you practice prone straight leg raise exercise. This will not only provide more stability to your lumbar spine but also enhance the strength of your hips and lower back. Over a period of time, you will notice a significant reduction in your pain as well.

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References

1. Forst, S.L., Wheeler, M.T., Fortin, J.D., and Vilensky, J.A., 2006. The sacroiliac joint: anatomy, physiology, and clinical significance. Pain Physician, 9(1), pp.61-67.

2. Schwarzer, A.C., April, C.N. and Bogduk, N., 1995. The sacroiliac joint in chronic low back pain. Spine, 20(1), pp.31-37.

3. Daniels, J.M., Pontius, G., El-Amin, S., and Gabriel, K., 2011. Evaluation of low back pain in athletes. Sports Health, 3(4), pp.336-345.

4. Beedle, B.B., and Mann, C.L., 2007. A comparison of two warm-ups on joint range of motion. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(3), p.776.

5. Vleeming, A. ed., 1999. Movement, stability, and low back pain. Churchill Livingstone.

6. Cambridge, E.D., Sidorkewicz, N., Ikeda, D.M., and McGill, S.M., 2012. Progressive hip rehabilitation: the effects of resistance band placement on gluteal activation during two common exercises. Clinical Biomechanics, 27(7), pp.719-724.

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