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Recovering After Lower Limb Amputation

Improving and Maintaining Muscle Strength

Your therapist will show you how to do exercises to build muscle strength and keep the muscle strength you already have. It’s important to start a muscle strengthening program within 1 to 2 days after surgery. The program will help you build strength and energy, which you will need to transfer weight to the prosthesis when you walk.

Your muscle strengthening program may include exercises:

  • to improve your balance and ability to walk (called gait training)
  • improve the length of time you can exercise and how hard you work during exercise (called conditioning)
  • that use a wall pulley, weights, elastic exercise bands, arm bike, and “resisted” exercise machines to strengthen your arms and legs

When you are strong enough to practice walking your therapist will start to have you hop on the good leg while holding on to the parallel bars or using a walker. Make sure you take rest breaks between activities. As you get stronger, you will be able to exercise longer and work harder.

Mat exercises

Your physiotherapist may give you the following mat exercises. Stop the exercise and talk to your physiotherapist if you feel pain.

Hip stretch lying on your back


Hip stretch lying on your back

Lie on your back. Hold your knee up to your chest with your hand(s). Push your limb down flat against the bed. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times on each leg.

Hip stretch lying on your stomach

Hip stretch lying on your stomach

Lie on your stomach with your legs straight. Push your residual limb against the bed. Hold for 30 seconds then relax. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes total each day.

Hip flexion

Hip flexion
Hip flexion

Lie on your back with one leg flat against the bed and the other leg bent up to your chest. Slowly lower the bent leg back down to the bed. Do this 20 times on each leg.

Hip ADduction

Hip stretch lying on your stomach

Lie on your back with a pillow (or rolled up towel) between your thighs. Squeeze your thighs together for 6 seconds, keeping your knee(s) flat on the bed and your toes pointing towards the ceiling. Do this 20 times.

Hip ABduction lying on your back

Hip stretch lying on your stomach

Lie on your back with your legs straight. Slide your legs apart, keeping your toes pointing towards the ceiling. Do this 20 times.

Note: Hip ADduction and ABduction exercises can be done together, switching between the 2.

Bridge

Hip stretch lying on your stomach

Lie on your back with a rolled towel under your thighs. Push down on the roll and lift your hips up. Hold your hips up for 10 seconds. Do this 20 times.

Knee extension

Knee extension

Lie on your back with a rolled towel under your non-amputated knee. Straighten your knee by tightening the muscles on the top of your thigh. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat for a total of 20 times. You can do this exercise on both legs if you have a below-the-knee amputation.

Hip ABduction lying on your side

Hip ABduction lying on your side

Lie on your side. Keep your top leg straight and in line with your body, lift your leg up towards the ceiling. Rotate the leg inwards so your heels are pointing up and your toes are pointing down. Repeat 20 times on each side.

Hip extension lying on your side

Hip extension lying on your side

Lie on your side with your bottom leg bent. Move the top leg back behind you but don’t arch your back or roll backward. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 20 times on each side.

Hip extension lying on your stomach

Hip extension lying on your stomach

Lie on your stomach. Keep your hips flat against the bed and knee(s) straight. Lift one leg up. If you feel any back pain, put a pillow under your hips. Repeat for a total of 20 times on each side.

Arm extension

Arm extension

Sit in a chair with your hands on the armrests. Push your weight into your hands, straighten your arms, and lift your bottom off the seat. Repeat for a total of 20 times. Make sure your wheelchair brakes are on while doing arm extensions.

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