Some exercises to consider for your pre- and post-SDR rehab. Always modify according to your abilities. Some of these exercises apply to more than one category, so feel free to mix and match too! You can also do a lot of these on a vibration plate, or add the vibration plate before or after your exercises to strengthen and loosen your muscles. The videos aren’t mine; I’ve just linked them as examples.
If the exercise is in blue, you can click on it to go to an example video!
BALL HAMSTRING CURLS: Lie on the floor with your legs straight and place your heels on an exercise ball. Bridge up and pull the ball toward you, bending your knees. (To make this exercise easier, have someone hold the ball and gently guide it toward you as you move it.)
LYING HAMSTRING CURLS: Lie on your stomach, bend your knee, and move your heel toward your bottom. Make sure to keep your quad (thigh) pressed into the table as much as you can; if it pops up, your quads are taking over for the exercise. For an added challenge, add light ankle weights. You can also try with a resistance band or have someone gently hold your heel down while you try to resist them.
HALF-KNEEL TO STAND: I really struggle with this one, but it’s a great way to build hip and hamstring strength at the same time! To make this exercise easier, hold on for balance (with one hand or both, depending on your needs), and put a foam pad or stacked blankets underneath your knee.
TERMINAL KNEE EXTENSIONS: These strengthen the lower part of the quad muscle and can help with knee straightening. They can be done seated or lying down too, or by pressing a ball into a wall. If you’re trying these with weight or resistance bands, be careful not to use too much weight or resistance, as this can put too much stress on the knee joint and cause pain.
SQUATS, WALL SITS, AND LEG PRESS: (See HIP EXERCISES tab above)
INCLINE TREADMILL WALKING: The higher the incline, the more you’ll target your hamstrings.
LEAPING: This one helps with balance and quad strength too! Jump across a room. You can focus on different aspects of your jumping for each lap, like jump height and jump distance. It may be helpful to have someone nearby to catch you if needed. You can also try jumping in and out, kind of like this (although my version doesn’t look nearly as graceful…): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIMT0Rv-lRk.
CRAB-WALKING: If you need help figuring out how to coordinate this movement, it helps to slow the video down.
BALL BALANCE: If standing on one foot is too tricky, place your front foot on a ball. A large, firm ball will be easier than a small, squishy ball, so you can adjust the exercise according to the challenge you need. As with all balance exercises, I recommend standing next to a table or other surface to grab for balance if needed.
MARCHING: March in place, or if that’s too easy, march across a room, bringing your knees up as high as possible.
CONE TAPS: Place cones around you and tap each cone with your toe. If the foam pad makes this exercise too difficult, do this on a regular floor surface. Other ways to make this exercise easier: Place the cones closer to you, use taller cones, and/or hold on. Have someone standing nearby to catch you if needed. You can also try sidestepping or front-stepping over the cones.
STRAIGHT-LINE WALKING: I call this one the sobriety test. 😉
I find that it’s especially helpful to stretch my calves before I exercise them; it helps me get a lot more range-of-motion, so they’re more sore the next day. Also, many people with CP find that their calves are particularly easy to pull or overwork, so start slow and be careful.
CALF RAISES: You can do this on the floor or on a step. I feel them most when I do them on a step.
LEG PRESS CALF RAISES: Be extra careful with this one. It’s really easy to pull your calf muscles if you use a lot of weight, especially for people with CP. I do this one with no weight or the lowest setting.
I also find my calves work hard when I try activities like doing squats and treadmill walking on my tiptoes. But unlike many people with CP, I don’t struggle with toe-walking at all. If heelcord/calf tightness is a significant issue for you or you have a habit of toe-walking, I would not recommend exercises that involve tiptoeing unless your PT feels they would help.