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Are you one of the 2 million living in the U.S without a limb? Each year, 185,000 people have amputations, and about 30 percent of these people experience depression or anxiety.
Losing your leg doesn’t mean you have to forget your fitness. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and help manage depression, and it can also help you acclimate to your new prosthetic.
Check out these great amputee exercises to get you moving and help you feel comfortable with your new leg.
Do the Appropriate Level With Amputee Exercises
Before you begin exercising, you need to start at your appropriate level. It’s the same whether you have all four limbs or not. You need to recognize your abilities and obstacles to prevent injury.
You also want to make sure you do enough, so your program is effective. You need to begin your workout to get the right level of challenge, which means you may have to adapt some of these exercises.
You should consult with your doctor or a top prosthetics and orthodontics clinic to make sure you find the right exercise program for you.
1. One-Legged Squat
Doing this exercise is a great way to develop balance and leg strength along with increased flexibility. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Point one foot to the front and make sure your toes are barely touching the ground.
Bend your opposite knee and keep your chest upright. Look in front of you and keep your arms to the front. Slowly push your bent knee leg up into a starting position.
You should make sure your knee is always relaxed and doesn’t go past your toes. You also need to keep your back flat. Switch legs and then repeat.
2. Wall Squat
This exercise is a little more advanced. Stand with your back to the wall beside something sturdy you can use for support if needed. Slowly move your body down the wall until your knees are bent slightly.
You can make this exercise more intense by how far you slide down the wall. Hold this position for about 5-30 seconds, and increase the hold time as you move on.
Don’t forget to breathe as you do this exercise. If your amputation is above your knee, you may have to do this exercise with your intact leg only because it cannot support your weight with a bent knee.
3. Prosthetic Leg Balance
This helps you learn to balance with your prosthetic leg. Make sure you have something sturdy to hang on to like a handrail or sturdy chair. Keep your feet together and left your intact leg with the knee facing to the side or forward—whichever is more comfortable.
Hold the position while you focus on one spot to maintain your balance. Try closing your eyes after you balance with your eyes open. Switch feet and repeat at least 5 times for each foot.
4. Pelvic Tilts
Lay on your back. You can do this exercise with or without your prosthesis. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle.
Put your hands on your thighs right above your knees. Make sure the small of your back is flat by pressing through your stomach as you lift up. Do not let your thighs move.
Hold this position for about three seconds as you breathe. This will strengthen your stomach. Lift your head to make this exercise more difficult.
5. Stationary Bike Machine
Stationary bikes are a great endurance exercise. You can ride the bike with one leg and get your heart rate up. You may want to strap your foot in place.
6. Balancing on All Fours
Get down on your hands and knees. Raise one arm in front and then put it down. Try raising the leg behind you.
Once this starts to feel easy, try raising the opposite arm and leg together and hold for a few seconds while you breathe. Switch sides and repeat. Make sure you look down and keep your back flat to avoid straining your neck.
This is a great way to strengthen your core to help reduce lower back pain. Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Touch your forearms to touch the floor.
Keep your elbows underneath your shoulders. Push your feet back one by one to form a straight line from your head to your feet. Tighten your abs and hold.
8. Leg Swings
This is a great warm-up or cooling down stretch for your hip muscles and joints. Stand on one leg and raise the other leg about three to six inches of the floor. Make sure your arms at your side.
Swing your raised leg back and forward. You can touch the floor for balance. Keep your torso tight.
You can make this exercise more difficult by not letting your foot touch the ground. Switch your legs and repeat the exercise.
9. Uneven Surfaces
If you want to work on your balance, a great way to improve this is to stand on an uneven surface. Put a cushion or pillow on the floor and stand on it. You may want to have something sturdy to grab on to help you at first.
Make sure the surface is not slippery so the pillow does not slide. You may want to do this on the carpet.
Sway slightly back and forth and reach for something. You will have to tighten the muscles in your residual limb.
10. Prosthetic Leg Clock
This is another great balance exercise. Think of a clock. Balance on your prosthetic leg.
Keep your head up, torso straight, and place your hands on your hips. Point your arm to 12 o’clock, then move to 3 o’clock. Circle to 9 o’clock and keep your balance.
You can make this exercise more difficult by switching to different times and mix up the order. Switch to the opposite arm and leg and repeat these moves.
It’s important to keep moving when you have a prosthetic leg. You can increase your workout level with these amputee exercises if you want to improve your fitness level.
Make sure you always consult with your doctor and stop if you feel something painful or feel something isn’t right.
Check out our health and fitness section for other advice on improving your lifestyle and mood.