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Exercises to Relearn Walking

Elderly man walking across the street

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


January 9, 2020

When recovering from a stroke, gaining mobility, strength, and learning to walk again is your first step to independence through rehabilitation.


If you’ve recently recovered from a stroke, learning to walk again can be a big challenge, but it’s also a crucial part of your recovery.

Whether you currently have a plan for gaining mobility or you’re in need of some help, there are several important leg exercises for stroke patients that can help you get stronger.

Read on for some exercises you can try that will help you walk again and get stronger so you can get back to living a normal life.


Exercises to Relearn Walking

There are several symptoms that people must cope with after a stroke that can affect their balance, mobility, and overall strength. Some symptoms of post-stroke include a loss of balance, weakness in the legs and lower extremities, and a general lack of coordination. You may also experience muscle fatigue, which can make walking even more difficult.

As you’re learning to walk again, your physical therapist or doctor may suggest some helpful exercises to help you relearn walking. Start off slowly with each exercise and work your way toward doing more as you start to get stronger.


Focus on the Toes and Legs

One common issue after a stroke involves problems with your toes, which can make walking extremely difficult. Try to pull your toes downward with your hands to improve their flexibility.

You can use your thumb and press into the arch of your foot to help your toes extend downward, which will strengthen the muscles over time. Hold this position for about 20 to 30 seconds and then reverse direction and repeat.

Of course, your legs and hips will also need exercise to help you regain your balance. Try some mild exercises first and then work your way toward more advanced options as you regain your balance and start to get stronger.

Start by trying a chair exercise that begins by standing up and securing your balance, then gently shift your body weight to one side. Swing your other leg up to the side, then balance yourself for about 10 seconds, using the chair as support. Repeat this and switch your legs as many times as possible.

Once you feel confident, you can try this same exercise to relearn walking without the support of the chair. The key is to re-learn how to maintain your balance and to regain strength in your legs without the help of a cane or walker. 


Stroke Rehabilitation Exercises

As you’re learning to walk again, try some leg exercises for stroke patients that will restore your body strength. This can involve anything from using a stationary bike to doing simple leg lifts as many times as possible per day.

Once you start to regain your strength and your confidence, the chances of walking after a stroke will start to increase. Remember to remain diligent and talk to your physical therapist about any concerns regarding your progress.

  • Try lifting small weights. Start light by lifting one to two-pound weights daily. Soup cans are a great alternative if you don’t have light weights at home. This will help you rebuild the strength in your upper body.
  • Simple stretches every day. Stretching can do wonders for your body’s ability to heal and get stronger. Try an exercise called “chair yoga,” which will help you stretch without having to be on the floor.
  • Take a walk every day. Once you’re ready to walk more, consider taking a leisurely stroll whenever you can to keep your muscles active. Avoid sitting for too long or else you could end up with pain and stiffness.

Keep in mind that learning to walk again will take time and your body will need some time to heal and process these changes. With some determination and help, you can eventually start to walk normally again.


Learning to Walk Again Using Equipment for Stroke Patients

Aside from these simple exercises, you can also use special equipment that will give you the additional support you need.


There are special types of wheelchairs for stroke patients that can help you when it’s difficult to walk. The best wheelchairs for stroke patients will also encourage you to use your muscles to get up from the wheelchair whenever you can.

Special Shoes

Look for special shoes for stroke patients that have a wider footbed and soft, cushioning support. These shoes will help your feet stay supported without being too restricting. Many health insurance companies cover some or all of the cost of things like shoes and other walking therapy equipment.

Walkers and Canes

A walker and a cane are other examples of ways you can use equipment to help you learn to walk again. These items give you stability and support, but they also encourage you to keep using your own muscles to walk.

You may also need to consider some in-home aids to help you as you’re learning to walk again. These items can make it easier and safer to get out of bed or get into and out of the bath and shower. With the use of feet and leg exercises for stroke patients and some equipment, you can begin to rebuild your muscles for a better quality of life.


Stay Focused on Walking Again

After you recover from a stroke, learning to walk again may seem like an uphill battle. Thankfully, with some daily strengthening exercises and helpful equipment, you should be able to get your strength back sooner than you realize.

Talk to your doctor about some ways you can use rehab to walk again. They can guide you through the process and give you a list of exercises to try at home. If you are in need of an at home caregiver to help out during the rehabilitation process, call Commonwise Home Care at 434.202.8565.

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