No products in the cart.

10 Outstanding Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients

physical therapist working with leg exercises for stroke patients

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

You’ll find something for all ability levels here. Whether you’re trying to improve your gait (manner of walking) or balance, you can benefit from these rehab exercises.

Feel confident knowing that each stroke exercise for legs features our favorite physical therapist, Liliana.

Video: Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients with PT Liliana

Physical therapist Liliana guides you through some great leg rehab exercises in this video:

If you prefer written direction, keep reading. The rest of this article contains more leg exercises from Liliana, DPT. They are 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.

As you’re designing your home therapy regimen, be sure to focus on high repetition and consistency. These are the keys to stroke recovery.

Below are our best leg exercises for stroke patients.

1. Hip Flexion with Hold

physical therapist in chair with feet flat on the floor
therapist in chair demonstrating leg exercises for stroke patients

This leg exercise is great for patients with limited mobility because you can assist your leg with your arms.

To start this exercise, use your hands to lift your affected leg up into your chest. 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 on both sides.

As you progress in your recovery from stroke, you can try doing this exercise without the help of your hands.

2. Hip External/Internal Rotation

physical therapist using a towel to slide foot across the floor for rehab
therapist sliding leg back to show stroke exercises for legs

This exercise is more complex but still good for patients with limited mobility.

Start by placing a towel underneath your affected foot, if you want to make the exercise easier. Skip the towel if you want more challenge.

Then, 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.

3. Knee Extension

therapist in chair with right leg extended
physical therapist in chair with left leg extended for rehab exercise

This is an advanced leg exercise for stroke patients. It requires significant mobility in your leg to get started. If you can’t do this movement yet, don’t be discouraged. You’ll get there in time.

Start the exercise from a seated position. Then extend your left leg out in front of you parallel to the floor (straightening your knee out). Try to keep your knee soft instead of locked out. Then, slowly bring your foot back down to the floor.

Then repeat with your right leg, alternating back and forth between your right and left legs.

Want 25 pages of stroke recovery exercises in a PDF? Click here to download our free Stroke Rehab Exercise ebook now (link opens a pop up for uninterrupted reading)

4. Seated Marching

physical therapist showing stroke exercises for legs
second position for stroke exercises for legs

This is an advanced leg exercise for stroke patients. Start from a seated position and lift your affected leg up into your chest.

Then place your leg back down onto the floor. Keep your back straight and maintain controlled movement. Repeat on the other leg, alternating back and forth between legs.

You can turn this into a strengthening exercise, when you’re ready, by slightly pushing down on your quads (thighs) when your leg is at the top.

5. Hip Adductions/Abductions

physical therapist sitting down with left leg swinging inward
physical therapist with leg swinging outward

For this leg exercise, sit in a chair and lift your affected leg slightly off the floor. Your knee 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 back and forth.

Gentle Seated Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients

The leg exercises above can help stroke patients of all ability levels.

Next, the following exercises are best for patients with limited mobility. They can also help those struggling with spasticity in the legs and ankles.

If you have sufficient mobility in your legs, then you can use these as a warm up or cool down exercise.

6. Ankle Rolls

For this gentle range-of-motion exercise, sit comfortably in your seat and make big circles with your ankles. This will help stretch and warm up your ankle joint.

7. Hamstring Stretch

Spasticity can make it difficult to stretch your leg muscles. But don’t neglect these stretching exercises. Moving your muscles through their range-of-motion can help improve spasticity.

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

This is a strengthening exercise for the legs and adductors (inner thighs).

Start by making two fists and place them side by side between your knees. Then, squeeze your knees and fists together and hold the squeeze for 8 seconds, or as long as you can. Resistance training can help reverse muscle atrophy after stroke.

9. ‘L’ Taps

This leg exercise involves complex coordinated movements. It provides great stimulation to help rewire the brain and improve movement after stroke.

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 an advanced strengthening exercise. Stroke patients with limited mobility should exercise caution. To improve your safety, try 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 may feel a slight burn in your quadriceps. This means you’re breaking down your leg muscles before your body builds them back up, stronger than before.

How to Get Back to Walking with Stroke Exercises for Legs

stroke patient holding cane to help support legs

As you practice these stroke exercises for your legs, the coordination and mobility in your lower extremities should improve.

If you want to improve your gait (manner of walking) be sure to add rehab exercises that target your core, too. Core exercises help improve your balance so that you can get back on your feet with confidence.

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

Some rehab tools, like FitMi home therapy, help you exercise your lower extremities more efficiently so that you can see results faster. Many stroke patients have gotten back to walking and driving after using FitMi.

Then, 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!

We hope these leg exercises help support your recovery from stroke.

Keep it Going: Get a Free Rehab Exercise Ebook (25 page PDF)

cover and pages from stroke rehab exercise ebook by Flint Rehab

Get our free ebook filled with 25 pages of rehab exercises featuring photos of licensed therapists. Sign up below to get your copy!

When you sign up, you’ll also receive our popular Monday newsletter that contains 5 articles on stroke recovery.

We never sell your email address, and we never spam. That we promise.

Discover Award-Winning Neurorehab Tools

ebook with the title "full body exercises for stroke patients"

Do you have these 25 pages of rehab exercises?

Get a free copy of our ebook Full Body Exercises for Stroke Patients. Click here to get instant access.

You're on a Roll: Read More Popular Recovery Articles

Get Inspired with This Stroke Survivor Story

Mom gets better every day!

“When my 84-year-old Mom had a stoke on May 2, the right side of her body was rendered useless. In the past six months, she has been blessed with a supportive medical team, therapy team, and family team that has worked together to gain remarkable results.

While she still struggles with her right side, she can walk (with assistance) and is beginning to get her right arm and hand more functional. We invested in the FitMi + MusicGlove + Tablet bundle for her at the beginning of August.

She lights up when we bring it out and enjoys using it for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time. While she still doesn’t have enough strength to perform some of the exercises, she rocks the ones she can do! Thanks for creating such powerful tools to help those of us caring for stroke patients. What you do really matters!”

-David H.

FitMi is a neurorehab device that you can use from the comfort of home. It works by motivating you to accomplish high repetition of therapeutic exercises.

As you work through the program, you’ll unlock more difficult exercises when you’re ready. It’s like having a virtual therapist available anytime you need it.

See how quickly Sudhir was able to notice improvements:

Saw results within a few days

“I bought FitMi about a month and a half ago. Quite impressed with the range of exercises for hand, arm, leg and foot. I suffered a stroke about 2 years ago which paralyzed my right side. I do walk now with a cane or walker, but my right hand curls up and my right arm is also weak. Within a few days of trying it out, I could note a distinct improvement in stamina before tiring. So, I am looking forward to continued improvement.”


Not only is FitMi approved by survivors, but it’s also approved by therapists, too. FitMi is used in some of the top clinics in the world, including the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, the #1 ranked rehab hospital in America. Plus, two PTs on YouTube with over 3 million subscribers (you may know them as Bob & Brad) gave FitMi the thumbs up, too.

To learn more about this motion-sensing, game-changing recovery tool, click the button below: