sit.and.be.fit Mary Ann wilson, RNWhen you are working with strengthening your leg muscles with standing exercises or challenging your balance to improve it, safety is of primary concern. If you can stand to exercise, you might like to try these “sink” exercises, standing by your kitchen sink. Use your hands to hold onto the edge of the sink as much as you need to for safety. You might like to place a chair nearby so you can rest when you need it.

Stand facing the kitchen sink, with your feet a comfortable distance apart, feet pointing straight forward. Hold onto the edge of the sink as needed for balance. Repeat the following strengthening exercise 4 times. Gradually increase to 8 – 12 repetitions as tolerated.

• Half Squats—Slowly bend your knees slightly, then straighten. Keep your feet flat on the floor. If you have knee pain, avoid doing this exercise, or bend more shallowly.

• Heel Lifts—Slowly rise up to your tip-toes, then lower your heels back to the floor.

• Toe Lifts—Keeping your heels on the floor, lift your toes off the floor. Hold them up for a count of 3, then lower to the floor. (Don’t allow your hips to go backward when you do this exercise; keep them straight.)

• Side Leg Lifts—Slowly lift one leg out tot the side, then return it to the center. Keep the knee straight and the toes pointing forward. Lead with the side of your foot, not the toe.

•Back Leg Lifts—Slowly lift one leg to the back then return it to the starting position. Tighten the abdominal muscles so the lower back does not arch during this movement.

• Side Step Together—Begin with feet together. Step to the side with the right foot, then bring the left foot next to the right foot. Step to the side with the left foot, then bring the right foot next to the left.

•Side Step Lunge—Begin with feet together. Step to the side with the right foot, bend the right knee as if lunging, straighten the right knee, and bring the right foot back to the center. Repeat the same number of times on each side.

The following exercises emphasize balance. Be sure that you are safe to prevent falling when performing balance exercises. You may need to have someone with you when performing these exercises. Hold onto the edge of the kitchen sink as much as needed.

•Standing Feet Together- With your feet together, try to maintain your balance for a count of 10, then 20, then 30. Use the edge of the sink only as much as you need to for balance. A small amount of sway is normal. Notice the muscles around your ankles and in your feet working. You’ll also notice pressure changes on your feet as you stand still.

•Standing with One Foot a Half Step Ahead- The ball of one foot is placed at the instep of the other foot. Try to maintain your balance with your feet in this position for first 10, then 20, then 30 seconds as your balance improves. Perform the exercise with the other foot in front.
Modification: If this exercise is too difficult, place your feet wider apart.

•Heel to Toe Standing- Place the heel of one foot directly in front of the other foot in a straight line like you are on a balance beam. Try to maintain your balance for 10, then 20, then 30 seconds with your feet in this position. Perform the exercise with the other foot in front.
Modification: If this exercise is too difficult, place your feet wider apart.

•High Step Marching – march alternately (R L R L) lifting the feet only slightly off the floor to begin with. As your balance improves, gradually raise your knees higher. Slow marching is better for challenging your balance than fast marching.
Modification: It may work better to turn your side toward the sink and hold onto the sink with one hand.

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