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5 Physiotherapy Exercises to Do After Hospital Discharge After a Fall

Everyone’s post fall recovery is unique. But after treating dozens of elderly patients at home after hospital discharge, I can tell you that there are some commonalities between most patients.

For example, most patients have a similar mechanism of fall (this helps us identify weak structures in your body and narrow down the cause of fall) and similar damaged structures (helps us shape your recovery regimen).

Even though everyone’s home physiotherapy after fall exercise routine is different and individualised, you’ll notice that most routines have several similar exercises because they are designed for people who share recovery needs.

In our previous post, we talked about the different ways home physiotherapy helps recovery after hospitalisation after a fall. In this article, we’ll talk about the 5 most comprehensive exercises that benefit most patients who are recovering from a fall while also trying to prevent future falls.

Let’s dive right in.

5 Physiotherapy Exercises for Post-Fall Recovery at Home

While reading about the following exercises, you should focus on why they are beneficial and the alternative ways of performing the exercises to gain the same benefits.

You may not have the capacity to do the exercise exactly how we described it. So, feel free to make adjustments or contact us so we can design a personalised recovery program for you. 

1.   Seated Leg Extensions

Leg extension is when you straighten your leg by contracting your big thigh muscles. For example, while standing, your legs are extended.

Performing leg extensions in a seated position is generally a safe starting point to master this movement again. It’s a foundational exercise to kickstart your leg strength recovery without overburdening your balance. It builds muscle strength so your legs can bear your body weight when you stand.

How to do it? Sit in a chair, slowly extend one leg at a time, straightening it out and then gently lower it back down.

Why do this exercise? It targets your quadriceps (big thigh muscles) and hamstrings (muscles on the back of the thigh).

Fun fact: Did you know that your hamstrings are as important for controlling your knee extension as your quads, especially when you’re standing still and trying to be stable?

We always include a leg extension exercise because it is important for knee stability and overall leg strength. The strength you gain from it allows for a smoother transition back to daily activities.

Alternate exercise:

  • Chair squats can offer similar benefits, focusing on thigh muscle strength with a slightly increased challenge. To do this, stand (with your feet close together) in front of a chair and sit down slowly such that your knees go over your toes.
  • Progress to using resistance bands or ankle weights as your strength builds.

2.   Standing Wall Push-ups

Balance isn’t only about your lower body strength or your reaction time.

What do you use to break a fall or stabilise yourself when you lose your balance?

Exactly, your hands.

You need good arm and shoulder strength to prevent falls and maintain your stability when you’re holding objects or performing tasks while balancing in sitting or standing.

We almost always try to include an upper-body exercise in fall rehab programs because we prefer a holistic approach to rehabilitation. Our patients recover much faster (and stay healthier for longer) because of it.

How to do it? Stand an arm’s length from a wall. Place your hands flat against it, and slowly push your body towards and away from the wall.

Why do this exercise? Standing wall push-ups engage your chest, core, arms, and shoulders, promoting upper body strength. That’s vital for balance, postural stability and functional mobility.

Alternate exercise: As your confidence grows, transition to countertop push-ups. Gradually progress to traditional floor push-ups as your strength improves.

3.   Toe Stands

Toe stands are ideal for increasing lower leg strength and improving balance. You can use a chair for additional support and safety.

How to do it? Stand upright and loosely hold on to a chair. Slowly rise onto your toes, hold the position, and then gently lower back down.

Why do this exercise? It strengthens your calves and ankles, key areas for maintaining balance and preventing future falls.

Many of my patients suffer from recurrent falls when they’re on their toes trying to grab something from the top shelf. To prevent that, I include toe stands in the recovery plans of nearly all my home physiotherapy patients.

I determine how important it is for a particular individual after I ask my patients about their routine activities and assess their home environment to find out the level of fall risk.

Alternate exercise: Try toe standing without support as your balance improves. When you’re confident with those, try toe walking and heel walking for a more dynamic balance challenge.

4.   Toe or Heel-to-Toe Walk

This exercise not only adds an element of fun by making you feel like a tightrope walker but also significantly improves your coordination and balance.

How to do it? Stand by placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the opposite foot and walk in a straight line.

Why do this exercise? It improves coordination and gait, essential for confidence and independence post-recovery. It sharpens your balance and prepares you for more dynamic movements.

Alternate exercise: Walking backwards in a straight line can provide a new balance challenge, enhancing proprioception (sense of position) and coordination. Try holding objects or throwing a ball from one hand to the other while heel-to-toe walking.

How to do it? Walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, focusing on smooth transitions and stability.

5.   Side Leg Raises

In real-life, you don’t always walk in a straight line with your eyes always looking straight ahead.

Your head moves while you walk, your arms move, and you change your direction ever so slightly all the time without even realising it.

The side leg raises exercise builds leg, hip, and core strength. That improves your balance in three dimensions and builds a solid foundation to prevent future falls.

How to do it? Stand upright. Raise one leg to the side, hold it briefly, and lower it back down. You can use a chair for support if needed.

Why do this exercise? It works on your abductors (muscles that move your legs away from the body) and core, providing stability and strength to your lower body.

Alternate exercise: You can do this exercise while lying down on your side if standing is too difficult. Doing the same exercise with a resistance band around your knees or ankle weights can offer a progressive challenge as you regain strength.

Pro Tip: Incorporate Exercises into Daily Life

Doing your exercises one or twice a day for 10-15 minutes is a good start.

But if you want to take your recovery up a notch, you should incorporate the exercises for post-fall recovery at home into your routine.

For example, do a few wall push-ups after getting up from your sofa. Or do a heel-to-toe walk when you’re crossing a corridor. You can perhaps fit in side-leg raises or toe stands while washing the dishes.

The possibilities are endless.

If you need more help figuring this out, give us a call and we’ll prescribe exercises based on your routine and home environment.

Integrating these exercises into your daily routine is not just about physical recovery; it’s a commitment to your overall well-being and autonomy.

Regular practice can make these exercises a natural part of your daily life, enhancing your independence and confidence post-recovery.

When to Seek Further Help?

If your hospital physiotherapist prescribed you exercises that you can’t do because of time constraints or other reasons, and that’s stopping your progress, then it’s time to bring in home physiotherapists to fix your recovery program.

Also, if your recovery is plateauing, it might be time to get in touch with us for more personalised support. Personalised care can adapt to your evolving needs, ensuring your recovery remains on track and is as effective as possible.

Home physiotherapy offers a tailored approach, ensuring your rehabilitation is not just effective but also matches your comfort and safety. We focus on designing a rehabilitative experience that respects your individuality and trains you in your familiar surroundings.

Our home physiotherapy services for the elderly after a fall cover various areas in Southeast and Southwest London, particularly in Eltham, Battersea, Norbury and Woolwich.

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