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Home Exercises To Strengthen Muscles For Successful Prosthetics

A strong body is the foundation for a successful prosthetic experience. By strengthening the muscles around your core and residual limb, you'll improve control, balance, and comfort with your prosthesis. The good news? You can build this strength right at home with a few key exercises, adapted to suit your specific needs.


Building Leg Strength

Above-Knee Amputees:

  • Seated Leg Press with Resistance Band: Sit on a sturdy chair with your back straight and one leg extended in front of you with toes pointed up. Place the center of the resistance band under the foot (either sound or prosthetic) of the extended leg, holding the ends of the band in your hands. Slowly extend the leg out straight in front of you, pushing against the band. Hold for a 2-second count, then slowly bring your leg back to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions, then switch legs.

  • Side Leg Lifts with Chair Support: Stand on your sound leg next to a sturdy chair for balance. Lift your prosthetic leg out to the side, keeping it straight and at least 6 inches off the ground. Hold for a 3-second count, then slowly lower it back down. Repeat 10-12 times on each side. Focus on engaging your hip abductor muscles during the lift.

Below-Knee Amputees:

  • Weighted Calf Raises: Stand on your sound leg with your toes pointed forward and your prosthetic foot flat on the floor. For added resistance, hold dumbbells in each hand (weight should be manageable) or wear a weighted vest. Slowly raise your heel off the ground, feeling your calf muscle contract at the top. Hold for a 2-second count before lowering your heel back down to the starting position. Aim for 15-20 repetitions.

  • Short Squats with Partial Depth: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold onto a chair or counter for support if needed. Slowly lower yourself down into a squat position, keeping your knees bent no further than a 90-degree angle and your back straight. Focus on pushing your hips back and keeping your weight primarily on your sound leg. Hold for a 2-second count before pressing back up to the starting position. Aim for 10-12 repetitions.


Developing Core Stability

Both Above-Knee and Below-Knee Amputees:

  • Modified Forearm Plank: Start on your forearms with your elbows shoulder-width apart. Extend your legs straight back behind you, resting on your toes. Engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Hold this position for as long as comfortable, starting with 30 seconds and gradually increasing the hold time as you get stronger. You can progress to a high plank on your hands (if balance allows) or, if you are missing an arm, a side plank with your unaffected arm supporting your weight.

  • Seated Leg Lifts with Straight Leg: Sit on a chair with your back straight and core engaged. Extend one leg straight out in front of you, keeping it parallel to the floor and toes pointed upwards. Hold for a 3-second count before lowering it back down to the starting position. Repeat 10-12 times on each side. You may add ankle weights for additional resistance.

  • Ball Squeezes with Exercise Ball: Sit on a chair with an exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor, your back straight and an exercise ball between your knees (or thighs, as your amputation dictates). Squeeze the ball with your legs while simultaneously engaging your core muscles. Hold for a 5-second count, then relax. Repeat 10-12 times. For additional core conditioning, do this exercise while sitting on a large exercise ball.


Remember:

  • Breathe: Holding your breath can cause you to strain a muscle.

  • Listen to your body: Start with low repetitions and weights, gradually increasing as you get stronger. Don't be afraid to modify the exercises further if needed based on your comfort level and ability.

  • Proper form matters: Focus on controlled movements and maintain good posture even with adaptations.

  • Warm up and cool down: Don't skip this crucial step to prevent injuries.

  • Consult a professional: A physical therapist can assess your specific needs and create a personalized exercise program tailored to your amputation level and goals. We work with some excellent PTs and would be happy to provide recommendations.


By committing to these exercises at home, you'll be actively preparing your body for optimal prosthetic use. Remember, with dedication and the right modifications, you can build the strength and stability needed to unlock the full potential of your prosthetic and live an active, fulfilling life.

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