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As many people nowadays lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, it’s not uncommon to suffer from lower back pain, a weakness to leg muscles, poor hip mobility and even a weak core. This in turn can have a negative impact on everyday activities.
Instability in your hip joints is one of the primary causes of lower back, knee, and ankle pain. Aside from sitting all day, these aches and pains can also result from activities such as running. However, by implementing some body weight exercises into your daily schedule could be an easy way to help alleviate some of these symptoms.
One such exercise that requires no equipment and is a great strength training movement is the side leg raise.
The side leg raise is a leg lift exercise that, when done with proper form, will target a number of muscle groups including the hip flexors, lower back, core, glutes and hamstrings. This simple exercise carried out daily will help to strengthen the abdominal muscles, lower back muscles and the hip muscles.
Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of leg raises and why it’s a fantastic exercise that can be done at home?
What Are Side Leg Raises?
The side leg raise is easy if you want to work your hip flexors and abductors. It is also known as lateral leg raises, straight leg abductions, side-lying leg lifts, or side leg lifts.
Side leg raises are essential for improving hip abductor strength. What’s more, they are a great way to build your core strength, and core stability is important for good posture. Any leg raising exercise can also help add definition to your legs, hips, and gluteal muscles. Most people use this exercise as a warm-up or for an end-of-workout stretch.
Why Side Leg Lifts Are A Great Exercise
Side leg lifts are excellent for building up your inner thighs, an area many people neglect. These are also good exercises for beginners because they are not very difficult but still challenging enough to make you feel the burn. If you undertake this exercise daily and want to make it a little more challenging, simply make use of some ankle weights which will provide more resistance.
Some Of The Benefits Of Side Leg Raises Are As Follows:
Better Body Stabilization
Side leg lifts are one of the best exercises to do if you’re looking to improve your body stability and overall strength. This is because during the exercise you activate the core muscles to keep you stable. Building a strong core has many health benefits including a possible reduction to lower back ache. You’ll also be strengthening your glutes and hamstrings, meaning that daily activities such as walking or running can feel that much easier on your body.
Improve Muscle Endurance
Side leg lifts help improve muscle endurance. We all know that having powerful, toned, and well-developed muscles is essential and side leg lifts can help you get there.
When you lift your leg to the side, it’s a motion used less than the typical knee bend or squat. By doing regular side leg lifts, you’re exercising the muscles in your legs that don’t get as much attention as other body parts. This helps improve overall muscle endurance and strength in your lower body.
Side leg raises work your gluteus medius, a muscle that runs along the outer thigh area. This muscle helps you maintain balance and stability when standing, walking, or running.
The good thing about this type of exercise is that it can be performed anywhere at any time, without any equipment required.
Better Range Of Motion In Hip Joints
As we age, it’s normal for our joints to feel a little tighter and less flexible than when we were younger but side leg lifts are a great way to improve your range of motion and flexibility. They can help you open up your hips and lengthen your hamstrings, especially if you’re trying to achieve a wide squat or lunge. It may feel a little difficult to begin with, but if done daily, you’ll quickly notice your hip joints begin to feel that much more flexible allowing you to improve the range of motion with the exercise.
Side leg raises also strengthen your legs, hips, and core muscles, which is excellent for building lean muscle mass and increase in muscle also helps to burn more calories.
Improvement in posture is another benefit of performing side leg raises. They can help strengthen the muscles in your pelvis, back, and abdominals, which aid with keeping you upright and your spine in proper alignment. By lifting one leg, you’ll work your gluteus medius and minimus muscles, which, over time, help stabilize the pelvis.
Side leg lifts also work the internal and external obliques, which are the muscles that go around each side of your torso and can help to keep your stomach more toned.
- Recommended Reading – 7 Best Lower Trap Exercises For Posture And Improved Body Positioning
Reduce Knee Valgus
Side leg lifts are great for reducing knee valgus, sometimes referred to as medial knee displacement or knock knees. This lower leg deformity is typically noticed during a squat as the person’s knees will essentially fold inwards.
Knock knees is when a person’s knees are angled inward. Their legs are not parallel to the ground when they stand or walk. This is due to the internal hip rotation that occurs when you walk or run. The most common cause of this condition is osteoarthritis.
- Recommended Reading – What Causes Sharp Knee Pain When Squatting
Side leg lifts may help to correct knock knees by strengthening your hip abductors, the muscles on the side of your hip that pull your leg away from the centre of your body.
The more you practice side leg raises; the stronger and more stable these muscles will become, leading to less knee valgus.
How To Do Side Leg Raises?
There are many variations of side leg lifts. You can even perform this exercise with a resistance band or ankle weights.
However, at it’s most basic form and for beginners, try the following:
Lie on your side, preferably on an exercise mat, with your legs extended out straight. You can rest your head on your lower arm or you can prop yourself up on your elbow, whichever is most comfortable. Rest your top arm on your upper hip.
Raising your top leg as high off the floor as possible without moving your feet or bottom arm from their starting positions.
Keep your hips still throughout and avoid swinging or jerking motions with your leg.
Lower your leg down again slowly, and repeat for about three sets of 15 reps each time.
Which Muscles Do Side Leg Raises Target?
Side leg raises are a great way of targeting muscles of the lower body. Side leg raises will activate the hip abductors, tensor fascia lata (TFL), gluteus medius, and minimus, which support the hips while walking and running. You’ll be able to move more easily and comfortably as your hip abductor muscles grow stronger and become more flexible.
When the gluteus medius and minimus are not actively used, they become weaker. Subsequently, other muscles take over the function of these muscles, causing pain, unstable hip joints, and, eventually, improper posture.
Therefore, you must include side leg raises in your workout routine to reduce these risks. They are also perfect for those who live an active lifestyle, as they can be done anywhere with little or no equipment
Let’s Wrap Up
Side leg raises are a basic, but highly effective, exercise for strengthening your glutes and improving hip mobility. Despite being easy, they work your hips, thighs, and core incredibly well.
Therefore, you should perform side leg lifts to develop powerful muscles. They not only improve your overall posture but also tone your muscles and can alleviate some general aches and pains caused by a sedentary lifestyle.