Strength (Video) - Lateral Thigh Raise With Exercise Ball

Strength (Video) - Lateral Thigh Raise With Exercise Ball

Dick Moss

(See instructional video at bottom of page).

The Lateral Leg Raise with an exercise ball is a super way to strengthen the gluteus medius muscles of the outer hip.

Importance of the Gluteus Medius Muscles
The gluteus medius muscles are critical for injury prevention in runners, and athletes in any sport that requires running. They stabilize the pelvis, keeping it level and ensuring that the feet consistently contact the ground at the same spot relative to the body.

If gluteus medius fatigues, the gluteus maximus must take over and do extra duty. If the gluteus maximus then fatigues, the hamstrings must take over. The result can be over-stressed hamstrings and pelvic alignment in which one hip drops lower than the other on every stride. This can produce injuries in the hamstrings, achilles tendons, plantar fascia, groin, hip extensors, hip flexors, shins and feet.

So you must always make sure the gluteus medius muscles are activated and strong.

Indicators of a Weak Gluteus Medius
There are several clues that indicate weak gluteus medius muscles. SI joint problems (sacroiliac) share some of the same indicators and often occur at the same time as gluteus medius weakness.

• Hips sitting lower to ground when running.

• One hip lower than the other.

• Excessive thigh adduction--knee pointing in--with gluteus medius problems.

• Toes pointing out when running.

Strength (Video) - Lateral Thigh Raise With Exercise Ball

To prepare to perform the lateral leg raise, athletes kneel beside an exercise ball, leaning sideways until they are leaning sideways on the ball, with the near arm over the ball. The upper arm is in front of the body with the hand holding the ball for stability.

Athletes should bend the bottom leg to 90 degrees, with the side of the knee on the ground. Initially, the top leg and body are aligned and perfectly straight.

The ankle of the top leg is dorsiflexed so that the toes are pulled towards the shin and rotated slightly downward so the toe points towards the ground (as much as possible) when foot is lifted off the ground.

Finally, keeping the body stationary, extend the hip backwards about 10 degrees-as the hip would move backwards in a running stride. This movement should come from the hip.

Athletes slowly lift the leg as high as possible, being sure to keep the foot angled downward and the leg extended backwards at 10 degrees.

They lift and hold at the top of the movement for the count of three-thousand.

Instruct them to perform only six repetitions, and to be very strict about technique. Performing more reps often leads to the gluteus maximus taking over.

Coaching Points
Have athletes think of moving the heel up first (above the toe), in order to maintain the correct foot alignment as the leg is raised and lowered.The lifting and lowering action should be felt in the side of the hip (gluteus medius)

Common Errors

• Foot opens up so the toe points upward (uses TFL not gluteus medius).

• Body opens up (rotates upward), allowing the toe to point upwards

• Athletes lose the 10 degree backward leg angle as they lift their leg.

• Athletes move their body forward as they shift their top leg backwards to a 10 degree angle--this effectively eliminates the 10 degree leg angle, because the body and hips remain straight.

This exercise can also be performed without an exercise ball.

(Watch the video below to see Tony Scott,
with Dave Harris, demonstrate the Lateral Thigh Raise.

References: From an information session with Tony Scott (RMT), of Newmarket, Ontario, and Dave Harris, (BSc in Kinesiology), Personal Trainer/Strength and Conditioning Coach, Aurora, Ontario. February 2007.


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