Why & How the Physically Limited Should Maintain Leg & Hip Muscles

Hi, friends. For those who struggle with standing, balancing, or walking due to illness and/or old age, daily minutiae becomes a huge burden once the leg and hip muscles atrophy. Using the toilet, taking a shower, simply getting from point A to point B–every little obstacle is a mountain. While the progression of time or a disease may be unavoidable, maintaining the strength of leg and hip muscles eases the toil of the physically limited.

Below are two lists of some simple exercises for maintaining leg and hip strength: one for home, one for the gym. The lists generally progress from easiest to hardest (in my opinion). I’m not including rep counts or weights; you can judge those for yourself. I myself can’t do the last few on the gym list, but I threw them in since they’re available.

I have no professional background in exercise science. I am just a wheelchair user who has worked out with a trainer for several years.

At Home:

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  1. Sit in chair with feet on the ground. Take turns kicking legs up (going from 90 degrees/knee bent to 180 degrees/leg straight). Or take turns picking legs up as if marching in the chair. Use strap-on weights to increase difficulty level.
  2. Sit in chair. Stand up and sit back down in chair. Most physically limited people will need a grab bar or something else to hold in front of them. If using a bar, concentrate in your mind on squeezing your butt as you stand so you don’t rely too much on your arms.
  3. Stand at the bottom of stairs (with strong, stable rails). Put right foot on first stair. Use right leg to pull you up to the stair, then step back down on your left foot. Essentially, pretend you are about to go up the stairs but changed your mind and stepped back down.
  4. Stand up, squat, stand back up. As with #2, most physically limited people need a grab bar to do this.

At Gym:

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  1. Adductor & Abductor machine (targets inner & outer thighs)
  2. Hamstring machine (targets backs of thighs)
  3. Knee extension machine (targets fronts of thighs)
  4. Leg Press machine (mostly targets glutes and calves)
  5. Exercise Bike
  6. Treadmill
  7. StairMaster
  8. Elliptical

I can personally testify that exercise works wonders for the physically limited. I can feel the difference in the ease or difficulty of moving when I worked out recently vs. if I have to skip several days; I can only imagine how my disability (Friedreich’s Ataxia) would’ve progressed by this point if I hadn’t maintained my strength. Use and keep what the good Lord gave you!

Thanks for reading!

24 comments

  1. Thanks for the tips. Remember how just like 3 yrs ago, your friend was in a wheelchair with little hope of walking anytime soon. Then he went to the gym with you; not saying it was magic, but he began to get out more, then he went back to school, now he is walking. Maybe working out improved his self image; or maybe it was just one step in a whole lot of good choices. But I DO believe that the gym was the FIRST step to get where he is today. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am rehabbing my knee in PT. I have really bad arthritis–a genetic predisposition and a life time of playing basketball and tennis. Anyway, I’ve been doing some variations of these exercises in physical therapy. They really do strengthen. Exercise is good for the mind, body and soul.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s great! The home exercises I listed are essentially physical therapy exercises, but with a physical limitation, physical therapy plays a large role in my exercising (vs. an able-bodied person’s version of exercising, which is probably too intense for me). Hope your knee improves soon, Pam! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too! Thanks Lilly–and it is. I know–Lord willing–I will have to have a knee replacement at some point. The goal is to give me another 5 yrs. before I have to undergo that.
        My grandmother was in a wheelchair due to crippling arthritis. She was a remarkable woman, very active–an opera singer, she constructed her own fire place (up to the point where she could reach, of course, but the design and foundation was her’s). Her disability gave me a different and positive perspective on people with disabilities.
        –Pam

        Like

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