How to Do a Standing Side Leg Raise: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a standing side leg raise to strengthen the muscles in your hips, butt, and thighs, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 31, 2023
standing-side-leg-raise

How to Do a Standing Side Leg Raise: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a standing side leg raise to strengthen the muscles in your hips, butt, and thighs, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 31, 2023
standing-side-leg-raise

How to Do a Standing Side Leg Raise: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a standing side leg raise to strengthen the muscles in your hips, butt, and thighs, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 31, 2023
standing-side-leg-raise

How to Do a Standing Side Leg Raise: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a standing side leg raise to strengthen the muscles in your hips, butt, and thighs, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 31, 2023
standing-side-leg-raise
Table of Contents

This is a pretty simple move to incorporate into your day — like a “movement snack” — because it doesn’t require any fancy equipment or even workout clothes. So what does the standing side leg raise do, exactly? We’re glad you asked. It helps strengthen the muscles in your hips, butt, and thighs and also sharpens your balance, since it’s done on one leg. The exercise promotes mobility in your hip joint, too. (And, as you probably know, the hips are one area that tends to start “talking” to us as we get older.) Wins all around! Now let’s get to it.

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What Is a Standing Side Leg Raise?

The name of this exercise pretty much says it all. A standing side leg raise is a resistance move where you lift one leg out to the side. It helps strengthen the muscles in your hips, butt, and thighs. It’s great for building better balance.  

What Muscles Does a Standing Side Leg Raise Work? 

The standing side leg raise exercise primarily targets these muscles: 

  • Glutes. There are three muscles — the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus —  in your butt. The largest is the gluteus maximus. But all three work together to do things like rotate, extend, and abduct your leg out to the side, and help stabilize your pelvis.

  • Quadriceps. This muscle group runs down the front of your thighs and consists of four muscles: the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. It’s a big muscle group — bigger, in fact, than any other muscle group in your body. Your quads play a major role in activities like walking and running, jumping, climbing stairs, getting up and down from a chair, and squatting to pick something up from the ground.

  • Hip flexors. The hip flexor muscles are located at the front of your pelvis by your hip bones, and are made up of the iliopsoas and rectus femoris muscles. They help you flex your hip joint when you do things such as putting on socks and shoes, climbing stairs, sitting and standing, and stepping over something on the ground. 

Benefits of a Standing Side Leg Raise

By strengthening and stabilizing important muscle groups in your lower body, the standing side leg raise exercise can improve your daily functioning in a bunch of ways. Here’s a look at some of the perks:  

Better balance. Any exercise you do on a single leg — even if you’re holding onto something for stability — can improve joint health, the strength around your joints, and your proprioception, which is the body's ability to sense its position in space. All of these factors give your overall balance a big boost that may reduce your odds of injury and falls. 

Reduced risk of falls. Standing side leg raises can improve strength, mobility, and balance — a trifecta of benefits that further lowers your odds of falling. A study published in Plos One, for example, found that abductor strength (which allows you to step sideways and lift your leg up to the side) declined by an average of 1.3% a year between early to late adulthood, but you can counteract these natural changes. Exercises like the standing side leg raise will build strength and mobility. The muscle groups it works are known to be particularly important when it comes to fall prevention. So regularly challenging them could help keep you on your feet. 

Improved ability to find postures that feel good. This move is an antidote for sitting in uncomfortable positions for too long, as well as other positions in your daily life that could cause you aches and pains.

Decreased lower back pain. Balancing on one leg while you do this exercise requires you to engage your core muscles. A strong core is associated with less back pain. 

Easier daily movement. Having more mobility and strength makes activities like walking on uneven ground, or stepping sideways to catch yourself from falling when you get off balance, feel less difficult. It’s also great for sports where you move side to side — like soccer, basketball, or tennis. 

Standing Side Leg Raise: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Standing Side Leg Raise

Standing Side Leg Raise

Standing Side Leg Raise

Standing Side Leg Raise

To do a standing side leg raise:

  • Stand with one side facing a sturdy surface, like a countertop or table, and place your hand on it for balance. 

  • Lift the opposite leg out to the side, keeping your leg straight and toes pointed forward (not turned up toward the ceiling).

  • Focus on squeezing your hip and glute muscles as you pause at the top of the move.

  • Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you’ll feel your hip, thigh, and butt muscles working. 

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this exercise to meet your needs. 

Standing Side Leg Raise Modifications

Standing Side Leg Raise Modifications

Standing Side Leg Raise Modifications

Standing Side Leg Raise Modifications

To make a standing side leg raise easier:  

  • Limit how far you lift your leg out to the side. 

To make a standing side leg raise harder: 

  • Loop a resistance band just about at knee level (you can also put it around your calves or ankles, if that’s more comfortable) to add resistance as you do the movement.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Quad Muscles. (2022). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22816-quad-muscles

  2. Daun F, Kibele A. Different Strength Declines in Leg Primary Movers Versus Stabilizers Across Age — Implications For The Risk of Falls in Older Adults? (2019). PLoS One,14(3):e0213361. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0213361

  3. Inacio, M., et al. (2018). Low-Dose Hip Abductor-Adductor Power Training Improves Neuromechanical Weight-Transfer Control during Lateral Balance Recovery in Older Adults. Clinical Biomechanics, vol. 60, pp. 127–133. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiomech