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

leg and hip muscles - Michaelmantz blog | ataxia2

Hi, friends. For those who struggle with standing, balancing, or walking due to illness and/or old age, daily minutiae can become 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 disease may be unavoidable, maintaining the strength of the 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 and 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. Simply, I am just a wheelchair user who has worked out with a trainer for several years.

At Home:

  1. Sit in a 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 the difficulty level.
  2. Sit in a chair. Stand up and sit back down in a 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 the stairs (with strong, stable rails). Put the right foot on the first stair. Use your 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:

  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!

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