Can’t Lift Leg To Get In Car?

If You Have Difficulty Lifting Your Leg To Get In The Car, This Exercise Can Help

Many people with hip or back pain have difficulty lifting their leg to get in the car, into bed at night, or to go up stairs.

Watch the video to learn what is wrong when you can't lift your leg to get in the car, plus an easy exercise to help you lift your leg easier without pain. 

7 Simple Tips To Get Rid Of Hip Pain by Dr. Dave Candy, More 4 Life Physical Therapy, St. Louis, MO

What Is Wrong When You Can't Lift Your Leg To Get In The Car?

There are many different diagnoses that can cause difficulty lifting your leg to get in the car. These can include hip problems, back problems, and neurological / neuromuscular diseases.

Hip Problems Causing Difficulty Lifting Leg

Many people who have people who have a hip flexor strain or hip arthritis have difficulty lifting their leg to get in the car. Muscle imbalances in the hip, low back, and abdominal muscles can often lead to difficulty lifting the leg.

These muscle imbalances include:

  1. Stiffness in the muscles in the back of the hip
  2. Overuse of certain hip flexor muscles
  3. Weakness or under-use of the iliopsoas (or iliacus and psoas in the picture below)
  4. Difficulty maintaining the low back in a neutral position due to abdominal muscle weakness

Anatomy Of The Hip & Low Back Muscles Involved In Lifting The Leg

Can't lift leg to get in car? Muscle imbalances in the hip and lower back can cause difficulty lifting leg

Back Problems Causing Difficulty Lifting Leg

As noted above, your hip flexors muscles, primarily your iliopsoas muscles, are the main muscles that lift your leg, particularly when you're in a sitting position such as getting out of a car.

Your hip iliopsoas muscles are innervated by the L2 and L3 nerve roots in your lower back.  Therefore, if you have bulging, herniated, or degenerative disc at L2 or L3, it can cause difficulty lifting your leg.

Additionally, since your psoas muscle attaches to the lower back (see picture above), it creates a strong compression force on the lower back, further compressing the discs and nerves.

This can lead to a vicious cycle that makes it progressively more difficult for you to lift your leg to get in the car.

Click here to learn how to stretch your hip flexor muscles

Neurological and Neuromuscular Diseases

Some neurological and neuromuscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, or polymyalgia rheumatica can also cause weakness in the muscles in the hip and shoulder girdles.

In these cases, it's important to address the underlying cause of the disease, but exercise to increase strength and muscular endurance also plays an important role in treatment.

What To Do If You Can't Lift Your Leg To Get In The Car

Use this exercise to help lift your leg, so you can get in the car and bed at night. 

  1. Sit in a chair
  2. Put foot on a step, box, or thick book
  3. Practice lifting up your leg (Even if you can't lift your leg very high, it's a good start to get your hip stronger in the range of 90 degrees)
  4. Put your toes on the box, step, or thick book
  5. Do toe raises to help use your hip & calf muscles at the same time
  6. If you need assistance for this, use your hands until your hip muscles muscles get stronger

This exercise should help strengthen your hip muscles so you can lift your leg to get in the car or into bed.

I hope you find the tips to be useful!  If you try these things and still can't lift your leg to get in the car or into bed at night, call us or text us at 314-941-3970 and we'd be happy to help

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