Simple Exercises


Related Issues


It is highly recommended that a certified professional prescribe an exercise routine for you, and monitor your progress. Please take the caveat above to heart. However, here are some simple moves and suggestions to get you started out at home.

Although we haven’t a "stump", it’s likely you still have some muscles left. In a classic hemipelvectomy operation, the remaining gluteus maximus (butt) muscle is brought around and attached to the oblique abdominal muscles. Depending on the circumstances of your amputation, the abdominals, upper and lower back, and even some thigh muscles may have been preserved. For a rare few, there is nothing left but skin covering below, but you still may have some back and side muscles left. Hip-disartics have a variety of pelvic muscles intact. Not matter, we all still have the muscles on our sound side, the "good leg". To prevent atrophy, isometric contractions will help maintain muscle tone. Use it or lose it!

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Lying in bed, couch, lounge chair or sitting, concentrate on contracting your "stump", whatever muscles remain. Tighten and squeeze; hold for a slow count of eight; relax; repeat. Don’t forget to deep breath, inhale and exhale. Isometrics can also be done with your remaining sound buttock. Do as many of these a day as is comfortable.

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It is extremely important to maintain flexibility, and strengthen the muscles around your remaining sound hip, back, abdomen, and torso. I suggest you do the following exercises on a floor mat (you can even do them in bed if necessary) without a prosthetic on, in loose, comfortable clothing. Take it slow and easy. Remember to breath in a regular, relaxed way. Do these exercises 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. Never strain, don’t force it, if any movement hurts, STOP!

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1. Assume the position shown and limber up.
2. Move your arms and leg, alternating tightening and releasing your muscles.
3. Do this for 2 to 3 minutes.

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This is the classic move that we HD/HP’s do in order to propel the prosthetic forward. This will help strengthen the abdominal and back muscles.

1. Assume the top position.
PELTILT.gif (9840 bytes)2. Tighten abdomen and buttocks (buttock for HP’s).  Press your lower back onto the floor, tilting your pelvis upward. This is a small, subtle movement as shown.
3. Hold, count slowly to five, release.
4. Repeat 5 times to start. Gradually increase reps.

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Helps limber up a stiff back and hip.

1. Assume the top position.
2. Raise knee to chest as far as you can*. KNEECHEST.gif (15230 bytes)
*At first, support your leg with your hands, then gradually let your leg do the work.
3. Hold, count slowly to five, release.
4. Repeat 5 times to start. Gradually increase reps.


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Helps stretch and strengthen back muscles and keeps your sound hip limber.LOWSTART.gif (5275 bytes)

1. Assume the top position.
2. Drop knee inward to the floor while rotating your head outward.
3. Hold, count slowly to five, release.
lowback.gif (20725 bytes)4. Drop knee outward to the floor while rotating your head inward*.
*try to keep your back flat on the floor, depending on which leg is gone one rotation will be more difficult than the other.
5. Repeat 5 times to start. Gradually increase reps.

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Helps limber up and stretch the hamstring (back of thigh muscle).EXERCI4.gif (9967 bytes)

1. Assume the top position.
2. Slowly raise your leg as high as you comfortably can, supporting it with your hands. Stretch gently; feeling a pull in the back of your thigh.
3. Hold, count slowly to five, release. Return leg to floor
4. Return leg to floor.
5. Repeat 5 times to start. Gradually increase reps.

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Helps maintain the normal lumbar curve and strengthen low back muscles.ELBOWPR.gif (8944 bytes)

1. Lie on your stomach as shown in the top picture.
2. Turn your head to one side and relax your arms at your sides.
3. Relax in this position for 3 to 5 minutes
4. Then prop on elbows, maintaining this position for a period of 2 to 3 minutes. Keep your lower back completely relaxed
5. Return to starting position and relax for 1 minute
6. Repeat 5 times. Gradually increase reps.

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Help maintain the normal lumbar curve and strengthen low back muscles.

1. Lie on your stomach as shown in top picture.PRESSUP.gif (9377 bytes)
2. Do a partial push-up, keeping the pelvis on the floor. Hold, count to five.
3. Ease yourself back to the starting position.
4. Repeat 5 times*.
*Keep your lower back and leg relaxed. As you gain strength, raise up onto your knee keeping your back straight. With time, progress to a real pushup.


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To stretch and strengthen hip, buttock and back muscles.

1. Lie on stomach as shown in top picture.
2. Stiffen your leg in a straight position and tighten your butt.
3. Slowly raise your leg up from the hip*.HIPEXTEN.gif (10454 bytes)
4. Return leg to floor.
5. Repeat five times. Gradually increase reps.
* Don’t lift pelvis to raise leg. Keep leg straight.

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We hips and hemi’s need to maintain strong abdominal muscles in order to walk. The following two exercises will help to strengthen your lower and upper abdominals.

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Strengthens upper abdominals.

1. Assume the top position.
2. Slowly raise head and neck to top of chest.
3. Reach both hands forward towards the knee*.HALFSIT.gif (10370 bytes)
4. Hold, count to five.
5. Slowly return to starting position.
6. Repeat 5 times. Gradually increase reps.
*Keep head in line with shoulders.

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Works to strengthen the lower abdominal and quadriceps (front of thigh) muscles.

1. Lie with arms at sides, leg out straight as shown in top position.STLEGRAISE.gif (9795 bytes)
2. Tighten abdominal muscles and stiffen leg.
3. Slowly raise leg from hip. Hold, count to five.
4. Return leg to floor.
5. Repeat 5 times. Gradually increase reps*.
*As you get stronger, do not allow your leg to drop to the floor, but hold it one inch above and repeat.

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"Some arm stretches, particularly the shoulders are useful additions for new or crutch using amps.  I do the quad stretch by lying on my stomach and pulling my heel  back up to my bum, then release.  To stretch the calf, I use to options. One .. using the same form as a hamstring stretch, I grab the toes and pull them back, while leaning forward. Stretches the calf. Release the foot, and it will stretch the hamstring. Another calf stretch is ... standing on the bottom step, with the heel and approx 1/2 the foot hanging over the edge .. I raise and lower my foot above and below the step's level plane. Works best if done slowly and held at each end of the stretch. Do 5-10 reps."  Robert K, HD

In addition, the author highly recommends the "HOME EXERCISE GUIDE FOR LOWER EXTREMITY AMPUTEES" This publication provides a comprehensive series of different forms of exercise for strengthening, stretching, balance, agility and coordination, and cardiovascular fitness. It was written primarily for the AK’s and BK’s. Therefore we will have to adapt many of the exercises to our situation. Some are just not applicable to our level. However, in general it is a very worthwhile resource. Copies are available for $7.00, plus S&H. They also offer a wide variety of videos and books for all amputees, both upper and lower extremity. To order, contact:

TherEd Resource
P.O. Box 561533
Miami, FLA. 33256-1533
(800) 610-4278


For the new amputee, a good rehabilitation program should teach you how to do the following essential moves safely.  If they haven't, get them to teach you. You must continue to practice these at home at least twice a day if you expect to be functional.

Going from a sitting to a standing position using your arms and hands only for a little balance. Your sound leg should support your weight. This is essential for using the toilet and taking stairs.

Transferring from one chair to another. This is essential from getting in and out of a bathtub or shower alone.

Going from a chair to the floor and back again.

Going to the floor from a standing position and back up again. Both these two are essential for dressing and a myriad of household tasks.

Standing and balancing on one leg. This is essential for walking with a walker, crutches, or prosthetic.

LEARN HOW TO FALL SAFELY! We all fall occasionally and must learn how to protect our remaining limbs from injury.
"My Dad used to try to push me over. People thought he was cruel, but it was the best thing he could have done to teach me how to fall. I have fallen many times since my amputation but have never hurt myself." Chris B., HD 25 years


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This site last updated on 10/6/2009