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Lower Body Strengthening After Amputation

After amputation surgery, you’ll need to stretch and strengthen your residual limb. This will help prevent shortening of muscles and tightening of joints. You need to keep your residual limb strong and flexible in order to use a prosthesis. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen your lower body. You may begin working with the physical therapist before or after surgery. You’ll need to keep doing these exercises once you go home. Follow all instructions from the physical therapist closely. If you have any questions be sure to ask. Below are some of the exercises you may learn.

Starting Position

These exercises can be done on a firm bed or other flat, comfortable surface.

Hip abduction

Man with amputated leg lying on side with head supported by pillow. Arrow shows him lifting amputated leg up.
Hip abduction

  • Lie on your side, with your residual limb on top. Support your head with your arm or a pillow.

  • Make sure your hips are straight up and down, not leaning forward or back. Keep your natural limb bent slightly on the bed for support.

  • Slowly lift your residual limb toward the ceiling about 6-8 inches. Don’t let your hip fall backward as you lift.

  • Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Slowly lower residual limb and relax.

    This exercise may also be repeated with your natural limb.

  • Do this exercise 10 times and then repeat to complete 2 sets. It is recommended that you repeat 2 sets of exercises twice a day or as directed by your healthcare provider.

Prone hip extension

Man with amputated leg lying on stomach with head supported by pillow. Arrow shows him lifting amputated leg up.
Prone hip extension

  • Lie flat on your stomach. Support your head with your arms or a pillow.

  • Keeping your hips flat on the bed, slowly raise your residual limb toward the ceiling about 6-8 inches. Don’t twist or raise your hip as you lift. Keep your natural limb flat on the bed and relaxed.

  • Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Slowly lower your residual limb and relax.

  • This exercise may also be repeated with your natural limb. Do this exercise 10 times and then repeat to complete 2 sets. It is recommended that you repeat 2 sets of exercises twice a day or as directed by your healthcare provider.

Proning

Man with amputated leg lying on stomach with head supported by pillow.
Proning

  • Lie flat on your stomach. Support your head with your arms or a pillow.

  • Keep your natural limb stretched out straight.

  • Keep hips flat on the bed. Try not to twist or raise your hip on the residual limb side.

  • Breathe deeply and relax, letting gravity stretch your hip muscles.

  • Hold for 10-30 seconds or as directed by your healthcare provider and slowly lower. Repeat 4 times a day.

For more information

See the following Rehabilitation After Lower Limb Amputation workbook, developed by VA and DoD.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 4/1/2020
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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