Core exercises for stroke patients are essential for reducing your risk of falling, stabilizing your balance, and improving your gait (manner of walking).
The following stroke exercises are arranged from easiest to hardest. Each features a picture of our physical therapist Cassie.
Video: Core Exercises for Stroke Patients with PT Cassie
Before we get started, here’s a video that walks you some easy core exercises for stroke patients.
It’s a great warm-up, and you’ll get to meet Cassie!
Core Exercises for Stroke Patients from a Physical Therapist
Below, you will find 5 more core exercises for stroke recovery with written instruction.
The first 2 exercises came from the video above. The other 3 core exercises are more difficult variations.
Here are the physical therapy exercises to try at home:
1. Trunk Rotation (Twists)
From a seated position, place your right hand on the outside of your left thigh.
With your back straight, use your arm to help twist your torso to the left.
And if you can’t move your right hand, then you can use your left hand to assist it.
Be sure to keep your spine straight and don’t twist to the point of pain.
Aim to engage your core and get a good core exercise in.
Repeat on each side 15 times.
2. Lateral Trunk Flexion (Oblique Crunches)
From a seated position, dip your left shoulder down towards your left hip.
Then, return to an upright position by focusing on using your core to pull yourself up.
If you can’t fully complete this exercise yet, then you can use your arm to push yourself back up.
Repeat on each side 15 times.
3. Forward Punches
Clasp your hands together, then punch forward while keeping your arms parallel to the floor.
Use your back muscles to come back up. You should really feel this in your core.
Repeat 10 times. But if you feel any pain in your back, stop immediately.
4. Knee to Chest
From a comfortable lying position, hug your knees into your chest.
Then, hold on to left leg with your left arm and then extend your right leg onto the floor. This is your starting position.
From your starting position, bring you right leg back into your chest.
Try not to use your leg muscles to achieve this movement. Focus specifically on engaging your core and using your core muscles to lift your leg up.
Once your leg is back in your chest, give your core muscles a good squeeze, then release your leg back down.
Perform 10 repetitions with each leg.
5. Toe Taps
While lying on your back, lift your legs up and bend your knees at a 90 degree angle.
Your shins should be parallel to the floor and your thighs should be perpendicular. Your core should be fully engaged.
This is your starting position, which is also referred to as tabletop position.
From tabletop position, bring your left leg down and gently tap the floor with your left foot.
Then, bring your leg back up by using your core muscles. Maintain a 90 degree bend in your knee the entire time.
Repeat on the other leg, all while keeping your core as tight as possible. This completes one set.
Perform 10 sets total.
Benefits of Core Exercises for Stroke Patients
By using these rehabilitation exercises to strengthen your core, you will improve your stability, balance, gait, and even your posture.
Strengthening your core has a ripple effect into your other extremities, like your arms and legs, because you need a strong core to practice other rehab exercises.
So be sure to include core work in your full-body stroke exercise regimen at home!