10 Strengthening Exercises for Below-Knee Amputation

Coping with the loss of a limb, even if it’s a below-the-knee amputation, is a harrowing ordeal, both mentally and physically. To help you, quite literally, move forward, there’s much you can do in terms of exercise to smooth the way.

Here at Ortho Engineering, we specialize in designing and manufacturing prosthetic limbs that allow you to keep moving. Thanks to modern technology and materials, we’re able to give you a better quality of life after you lose a limb, allowing you to better keep up with the world around you.

While we can supply you with the state-of-the-art prosthetics that you need for mobility, you need to do your part to ensure that you get the most out of your new lower leg. To that end, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 exercises to help make the transition to your prosthetic limb (the number of repetitions is up to you and your physical therapist).

1. Quads

Your quadriceps are the groups of muscles in the front of your thighs. To keep your quads strong, lie faceup on the ground and press your knee into the ground, holding for five seconds. Alternate your legs to ensure that both sides benefit.

2. Glutes

Your gluteal muscles in your buttocks need to be strong to propel you, especially up stairs, so target them by lying faceup on the ground and squeezing your buttocks together, holding for five seconds and then releasing. You can also lie on your stomach and raise one leg at a time and hold, squeezing that side of your buttocks.

3. Core strength

One of the best ways to strengthen your entire body and help with balance is to work on your core muscles. To do this, place something under your knees to raise them and then perform small situps. Concentrate on using only your abdominal muscles to lift your head, shoulders, and trunk and to resist straining your neck.

4. Abdominal bracing

Sit up straight in a chair and hold a ball between your knees. Then brace your abdominal muscles and squeeze the ball.

5. Side-to-side abdominal

Taking that same ball from between your knees, hold it in your hands. Brace your abdominal muscles and swing the ball from one side to the other, keeping your muscles taut and engaged.

6. Bridges

One of the best ways to exercise a few muscle groups at once is to perform bridges. Lie back and place a roller under your residual limb. Then bend your unaffected leg and place your foot close to your buttocks. Pressing on your foot, lift your torso, leaving your head and shoulders on the ground and squeeze your glutes. 

7. Hip abduction

Lie on your unaffected side and prop your upper body up on your elbow. Then lift your residual limb and hold to target the muscles in your hips.

8. Squats

With your prosthetic in place, try a series of squats, which strengthens your quads and works on your balance. You can use a wall or chair to help keep you steady.

9. Upper body

While it’s your lower limb that’s affected, you’d do well to ensure that your upper body has the strength to pick up any slack. Bicep curls with a weight are effective, or you can sit in an armchair and slowly use your arms to raise your butt out of the chair, and hold. This type of exercise is strengthening and teaches you how to perform certain tasks more easily — like getting out of a chair. 

10. Cardio

As you become used to your prosthetic, we encourage you to get out and use it. Go for walks that get your heart rate up, which helps your overall health.

We have plenty more suggestions, which we’re happy to share with you. To learn more, simply contact one of our Southern California offices. With nine locations, there’s sure to be one conveniently located near you.

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