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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 performed on a firm bed or other flat, comfortable surface.

Strengthening: Hip Abduction

Man with amputated right leg lying on his left side, raising right amputated leg.
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. Don’t let your hip fall backward as you lift.

  • Hold for a few seconds.

  • Slowly lower residual limb and relax.

  • Repeat 10 times. Do 1 set 1 time a day.

Strengthening: Prone Hip Extension

Man with amputated right leg, laying face down on stomach lifting amputated leg upward.
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. Don’t twist or raise your hip as you lift. Keep your natural limb flat on the bed and relaxed.

  • Hold for a few seconds.

  • Slowly lower your residual limb and relax.

  • This exercise may also be repeated with your natural limb.

  • Repeat 10 times. Do 1 set 1 time a day.

Stretching: Proning

Man with amputated leg lying face down on stomach, 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 30 minutes. Repeat 3 times a day.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fincannon, Joy, RN, MN
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 7/21/2013
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