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General Exercise Program: Level 2

This information describes Level 2 of a general exercise program that will help you with your physical recovery.

This exercise program works the major muscle groups that you use for everyday activities. Regular exercise with resistance (from gravity, elastic bands, or hand weights) will help you:

  • Get back to your previous level of function.
  • Increase your muscle strength.

To increase your strength and endurance, you should also do other exercises such as walking. Your physical or occupational therapist may change this program to meet your needs. Before starting this program, speak with your doctor.

Exercise Tips

  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do the exercise movements when you breathe out.
  • Do not hold your breath while doing any of these exercises.
  • Do some of the exercises in front of a mirror to keep the right form and posture.
  • Your therapist may give you an elastic exercise band (Thera-Band®). Use the band for resistance during the exercises, as directed by your therapist.
  • Move slowly through all movements. Slow, controlled movements will:
    • Use more muscle fibers
    • Strengthen your muscle more efficiently
  • Put as much effort into releasing from the movement as you did starting it.
    • For example, when doing bicep curls, lower your arm as slowly and with as much control as when you lifted it. When you lower your arm in this way, it is called a “lengthening contraction.” This strengthens the muscle more efficiently than the upward curl. This applies to all exercises that are for strengthening.
  • Stop any exercise that causes you pain or discomfort and tell your physical therapist. You can continue to do the other exercises.

Special Instructions

Exercises

Bridging

  1. Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet on the bed. Keep your arms at your sides (see Figure 1).                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  2. Tighten your abdominal muscles and buttocks.
  3. Push through your feet and lift your buttocks 3 to 4 inches off the bed (see Figure 2).
  4. Hold for a count of 5.
  5. Then, slowly lower your buttocks back onto the bed.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Mini crunches

When doing this exercise, take a breath in before moving. Then, exhale slowly through pursed lips while doing the movement. Do not hold your breath.

  1. Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet on the bed.
  2. Extend your arms forward toward your knees (see Figure 3).    
  3. Tighten your abdominal muscles.
  4. Slowly lift your shoulders 2 to 3 inches off the bed, while keeping your chin tucked (see Figure 4).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  5. Lower your shoulders back down to the bed.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Mini squats

  1. Stand next to a locked bedrail or countertop. Hold onto it with both hands.
  2. Place your feet 6 to 12 inches away from the bed or counter. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight (see Figure 5).
  3. Slowly bend your hips and knees until your knees are at about a 45- degree angle (see Figure 6).                                                                                                                      
  4. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  5. Slowly straighten your hips and knees until you are standing upright.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Heel raises

  1. While standing, hold on to the back of a stable chair, raised bed rail, or handrail in the hallway for balance.
  2. Place your feet about 6 inches apart.
  3. Slowly push up onto your toes, lifting your heels off of the floor (see Figures 7 and 8).
  4. Hold the position for a count of 5.
  5. Slowly lower your heels back down to the floor.

Standing hamstring curls

  1. While standing, hold on to the back of a stable chair, raised bed rail, or handrail in the hallway for balance
  2. Bend your left knee, bringing your heel toward your buttocks. Keep your knees even with each other. Stand tall and do not bend your hips (see Figure 9).
  3. Lower your foot back down to the floor.
  4. Repeat 10 times
  5. Repeat the exercise with your right leg.

Standing hip extensions

  1. While standing, hold on to the back of a stable chair, raised bed rail, or handrail in the hallway for balance.
  2. Extend your left leg behind you at the hip, while keeping your knee straight. Stand up straight. Do not lean forward (see Figure 10).                                                                                                                                                                                   
  3. Hold for a count of 5.
  4. Bring your leg forward to rest on the floor next to your other leg.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
  6. Repeat the exercise with your right leg.

Standing side kicks

  1. Hold on to the backrest of a stable chair, a raised bed rail, or handrail in the hallway for balance. Stand up straight. Do not lean to the side or forward.
  2. Lift your right leg out to the side while keeping your toe pointed forward (see Figures 11 and 12).                                                                                                                 
  3. Hold for a count of 5.
  4. Bring your leg back in to meet your other leg.
  5. Repeat 10 times
  6. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.

Standing forward kicks

  1. Hold onto the backrest of a stable chair, a raised bed rail, or handrail in the hallway for balance. Stand up straight. Do not lean to the side or forward.
  2. While keeping your knee straight, slowly lift your right leg forward at the hip (see Figure 13).                                                                                                                        
  3. Hold for a count of 5.
  4. Slowly bring your leg back so that both feet are resting side by side.
  5. Repeat 10 times
  6. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.

Arm raises

  1. Sit or stand comfortably with your back straight, shoulders back, and your head facing forward.
  2. Raise your arms out to the side, up to the level of your shoulders, while keeping your elbows straight (see Figure 14).                                                                                       
  3. Hold for a count of 5.
  4. Lower your arms to your sides.
  5. Repeat this 10 times.

Triceps extensions

  1. Sit comfortably with your back straight, shoulders back, and head facing forward.
  2. Pick up an elastic exercise band with  both hands. Position your hands in front of your chest with your elbows raised out to your sides, parallel with the floor.
  3. Straighten your elbows fully until your arms are extended out to your sides.  Keep the stretched band at chest level (see Figure 15).
  4. Straighten your elbows fully until your arms are extended out to your sides. Keep the stretched band at chest level (see Figure 16).
  5. Bend your elbows and bring your hands back in toward your chest while keeping your upper arms raised.
  6. Repeat this 10 times.

Bicep curls

  1. Sit comfortably with your back straight, shoulders back, and your head facing forward. Keep your right arm straight with your elbow at your side.
  2. Place one end of the exercise band under your right foot. Hold the other end of the band with your right hand (see Figure 17).
  3. With your arm close to your side, bend your elbow, bringing your hand toward your right shoulder (see Figure 18).
  4. Hold for a count of 5.
  5. Lower your hand back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat 10 times.
  7. Repeat with your left hand and foot.

Scapular retractions

  1. Sit comfortably with your back straight, shoulders back, and head facing forward.
  2. Grasp the ends of the exercise band in each hand. Raise your arms to shoulder height, keeping your elbows bent with your hands in front of your chest. Take up the slack in the exercise band to provide resistance (see Figure 19).
  3. Move your arms back so that they are slightly behind you while squeezing your shoulder blades together (see Figure 20).
  4. Hold for a count of 5.
  5. While keeping your arms raised, bring them forward so that your hands are in front of your chest again.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Seated push-ups

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair with armrests. Keep your back straight, shoulders back, and your head facing forward.
  2. Place your hands on the armrests of the chair. Place your feet shoulder-distance apart, right below your knees.
  3. Position yourself as if you are going to stand up (see Figure 21).
  4. Straighten your elbows and lift your buttocks off the seat until your elbows are straight. Lift your buttocks as high as you can, even if you can’t get off the chair completely (see Figure 22).
  5. Slowly lower yourself back onto the seat of your chair as you bend your elbows.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Contact Information

You can reach your physical or occupational therapist at (212) 639-7833.