Leg Strengthening Exercises After Being Bedridden

Have you ever wondered what happens to our leg muscles when we’re bedridden for an extended period? Well, it’s not just Netflix marathons that lead to weaker legs; a lack of physical activity can cause our leg muscles to atrophy. But fret not! In this blog post, I will talk about the best leg-strengthening exercises to help your loved ones bounce back after being bedridden. So grab a cup of coffee and let’s get those legs moving again!

Understanding the Impact of Bed Rest on Legs

Picture this: your loved one has been confined to their bed for weeks or even months due to an illness or injury. During this time, their leg muscles have been in hibernation mode. As a result, muscles tend to weaken and lose mass without regular use.

When our legs are inactive, the muscles’ fibers start to break down, leading to muscle wasting. Moreover, joints can become stiff and lose their flexibility, making it harder for your loved one to regain mobility once they’re out of bed.

Gradual Start – Gentle Range of Motion Exercises

Now that we understand the challenges our loved ones face after bed rest, let’s start with a gentle range of motion exercises. These are perfect to initiate muscle activation without putting too much stress on the body.

Ankle Circles:

Ankle circles

Ask your loved one to lie on their back, and gently rotate their ankles clockwise and counterclockwise. This exercise helps improve blood circulation and prevents ankle stiffness.

Knee Bends:

Knee Bends

Have your loved one bend their knees while lying down. Encourage them to move their knees towards their chest and then slowly straighten their legs. This exercise helps improve flexibility in the knee joints and strengthens the leg muscles.

Building Leg Strength with Bodyweight Exercises

As your loved one starts to regain some strength and mobility, it’s time to progress to bodyweight exercises. These exercises use the body’s weight as resistance, making them ideal for rebuilding leg strength without the need for fancy equipment.


Position a sturdy chair with armrests in front of your loved one. Ask them to sit down and then stand up using their legs. Repeat this movement for 10-15 reps. Sit-to-stand exercises mimic everyday activities and are excellent for strengthening the quadriceps and glutes.

Wall Squats:

Wall Squats

Find a wall and have your loved one stand with their back against it. Instruct them to slide down into a seated position, making sure their knees are at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds before standing back up. This exercise targets the thighs and buttocks, improving overall leg strength.

Leveling Up – Resistance Training for Legs

As your loved one gains confidence and strength, it’s time to introduce resistance training to take their leg exercises to the next level. Resistance exercises challenge the muscles even further, promoting muscle growth and toning.

Resistance Band Leg Press:

Resistance Band Leg Press

Place a resistance band around your loved one’s feet while they are lying on their back. Instruct them to push their feet against the band, extending their legs fully. Slowly release and repeat for 10-12 reps. This exercise strengthens the hamstrings and quadriceps.



Find a stable step or platform, and have your loved one step up onto it with one leg. Then, bring the other leg up to meet it. Step back down and repeat for 10-12 reps on each leg. Step-ups work wonders for overall leg strength and balance.

Cardiovascular Endurance for Leg Health

Now that we’ve covered strength training, it’s essential not to overlook cardiovascular health. Cardio exercises boost blood circulation, enhance endurance, and keep the heart healthy.


grandma and child walking downstairs

Encourage your loved one to start with short walks and gradually increase the duration as their strength improves. Walking is a low-impact activity that engages all the leg muscles and is easily adjustable to their current level of fitness.

Stationary Cycling:

Stationary Cycling

If walking is still challenging, consider introducing stationary cycling. This low-impact exercise helps strengthen the leg muscles and is gentle on the joints, making it an excellent choice for someone recovering from bed rest.

Balancing Acts – Improving Stability and Coordination

As your loved one progresses in their leg-strengthening journey, it’s vital to address balance and coordination. These aspects are crucial for preventing falls and enhancing overall mobility.

One-Leg Stands:

One-Leg Stands

Encourage your loved one to stand near a sturdy surface (like a countertop or a chair back) for support. Have them lift one leg off the ground and try to balance on the other for as long as possible. Switch to the other leg and repeat. This exercise challenges the leg muscles and improves stability.

Heel-to-Toe Walks:

Heel-to-Toe Walks

Create a marked path on the floor or use tape to create a straight line. Ask your loved one to walk along the line, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the other foot with each step. This exercise helps enhance balance and coordination.

Flexibility Training – Stretching for Limber Legs

Flexibility is often overlooked but plays a significant role in maintaining leg health. Regular stretching helps reduce muscle tension, improves range of motion, and prevents injuries.

Hamstring Stretch:

Hamstring Stretch

Have your loved one sit on the edge of a bed or a chair and extend one leg straight out in front of them. Instruct them to reach for their toes while keeping their back straight. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and switch to the other leg. This stretch targets the hamstrings.

Quadriceps Stretch:

Quadriceps Stretch

While standing, have your loved one hold onto a stable surface for support. Bend one knee and bring the foot towards their buttocks. Gently pull the foot with the same hand to increase the stretch in the front of the thigh. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.

Water Therapy – Aquatic Exercises for Low-Impact Strength

For those with access to a pool, water therapy offers a low-impact environment to engage in leg-strengthening exercises.

Water Walking:

water walking exercise

Encourage your loved one to walk in waist-deep water, pushing against the resistance of the water. Water walking provides an excellent cardiovascular workout while being gentle on the joints.

Leg Swings:

Standing next to the pool’s edge, have your loved one hold on for support. Instruct them to swing one leg forward and backward in a controlled manner. Repeat on the other leg. Leg swings help strengthen the hip flexors and improve the range of motion.

Mindfulness Matters – Mental Health and Motivation

Physical recovery after being bedridden involves not only the body but also the mind. It’s common for individuals to feel discouraged or frustrated during this process.

Encouragement and Support:

She relies on you for emotional support

Offering emotional support and positive reinforcement can make a world of difference. Celebrate every small achievement, and remind your loved one of the progress they’ve made.

Setting Realistic Goals:

Goal setting and writing down in on a paper

Help your loved one set achievable milestones and track their progress. Breaking down the journey into smaller steps can make the process feel less daunting.

Seeking Professional Guidance

While these leg-strengthening exercises are a fantastic starting point, it’s crucial to consult with a physical therapist or healthcare professional. They can create a tailored exercise plan based on your loved one’s specific needs and limitations.


Remember, patience and consistency are key throughout this journey. It’s essential to start slowly with a gentle range of motion exercises and gradually progress to bodyweight and resistance training.

Always consult a healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program, especially if your loved one is recovering from a serious injury or illness. Stay motivated and encourage your loved one every step of the way!

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Have you experienced the challenge of regaining leg strength after being bedridden, or do you have other leg-strengthening tips to share? Let’s engage in the comments section below and support each other on this road to recovery.

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