10 Outstanding Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients

10 Outstanding Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients

If you’re a visual learner, then you’ll love these leg exercises for stroke patients.

Feel confident in your moves knowing that each of these stroke exercises for legs features our favorite physical therapist, Liliana.

Video: Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients with PT Liliana

Before we get started, check out the video featuring physical therapist Liliana guiding you through some easy leg exercises:

The rest of this article contains more leg exercises from Liliana organized from easiest to hardest.

Physical Therapy Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients

Exercising with high repetition (i.e. massed practice) is the best method for motor recovery after stroke.

So be sure to get all your reps in.

Here are our best leg exercises:

1. Hip Flexion with Hold

leg exercises for stroke patients hips

leg exercises for stroke patients 1

Use your hands to lift your affected leg up into your chest, and hold there for a second before slowly letting your leg back down. Repeat on the other leg.

Try your best to keep a straight back and tight core.

Repeat both sides 10 times each.

How to make it harder:

Don’t use your hands.

2. Knee Extension

stroke exercises for legs and knees

stroke exercises for legs

From a seated position, extend your left leg out in front of you parallel to the floor. Avoid locking your knee. Then, slowly bring your foot back down to the floor.

This will feel like a kicking motion.

Then repeat with your right leg, alternating back and forth between your right and left legs for a total of 20 repetitions (10 on each leg).

How to make it harder:

Pause for a second at the top of each extension.

3. Hip External/Internal Rotation

You may need an optional towel for this exercise.

at home stroke exercises for legs and hips

at home stroke exercises for legs

For this exercise, you can place a towel underneath your affected foot to help make it easier.

From a seated position, use your hands to assist your affected leg and slide your foot towards your midline. Then, push your leg outwards, using your hands for assistance if necessary.

Repeat 10 times.

How to make it harder:

Ditch the towel and don’t use your hands.

4. Seated Marching

fun leg exercises for stroke patients

best leg exercises for stroke patients

From a seated position, lift your affected leg up into your chest, and then place it back down onto the floor. Keep your back straight and maintain a controlled movement. Then repeat on the other leg, alternating back and forth for a total of 10 repetitions.

How to make it harder:

Pause at the top for a second or two. And, if you have the control to do this safely, slightly push down on your quads to add a bit of resistance.

5. Hip Adductions

For this exercise, sit in a chair and lift your affected leg slightly off the floor. Your leg should remain bent at 90 degrees, but your foot should hover over the floor.

Then, kick your leg outward like you’re kicking a ball to the side. Then, kick your leg inward toward your midline. Repeat 10 times.

How to make it harder:

Pause after each kick.

Extra Seated Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients

Whether you’re back at work of eager to try more leg exercises at home, the following moves can also be practiced from any comfortable seated position.

6. Ankle Rolls

Sit comfortably in your seat and start to make big circles with your ankles to warm up your ankle joint. Try doing 20 ankle rolls and if it feels good, do two sets.

7. Hamstring Stretch

To stretch out your hamstrings, reach for your toes while staying seated in your chair. Make sure to bend at your hips and not at your low back. As long as there is no pain, hold the stretch for 20 seconds and then come up slowly.

8. Inner Thigh Squeezes

To continue working your adductors, or inner thigh muscles, make two fists and place your fists side by side between your knees. Then, squeeze your knees and fists together with everything you’ve got and hold the squeeze for 8 seconds.

9. ‘L’ Taps

Start in a comfortable seated position with your feet below your knees. Then, bring your right foot out to your 3 o’clock position and tap your foot. Then, bring it back to center and move it up to your 12 o’clock position and tap, returning to center after. This will make an “L” shape. Repeat on the other leg.

10. Inverse Half Squat

This is a difficult strengthening exercise. We recommend practicing in front of a table or desk that you can hold for support.

Start with your legs out a little wider than normal, and secure yourself in a strong stance. Then, stand halfway up – but only halfway – and then sit back down. You will start to feel this in your quadriceps and, well, your entire lower body.

Try doing these half stands 10 times and you’ll really start to feel your muscles working.

How to Get Back to Walking with Stroke Exercises for Legs

best stroke exercises for legs

As you practice these 10 leg exercises, your coordination and mobility will improve. This should help improve your gait (manner of walking) and balance.

When it’s safe to do so, you can continue to improve your gait by practicing walking. We know this sounds obvious, but walking really is the best way to get better at walking!

Walking is a form of weight-bearing exercise, which will help with your strength as well as your mobility.

Also, if foot drop is making walking difficult, be sure to practice foot drop exercises too.

These leg exercises will help support your recovery, and when you can get back on your feet, try to walk as much as you can.

Have any questions? Leave us a comment below!