Strengthen muscles during bed rest

  by Dr. Harry Papadopoulos Bed rest during hospitalization or at home could cause a serious decline in muscle tissue, muscle strength and functional capacity. Studies have shown that in older adults, 10 days of bed rest resulted in a decrease of leg strength in the quadriceps, the large muscle in the front of the thigh. There was also a significant reduction in stair-climbing power, which is a key measurement of functional ability. It is very important that older adults engage in resistance exercises during bed rest and that these exercises be supplemented by an adequate protein and energy-rich diet. It is recommended that older adults consume a moderate amount (25-30 gm) of high quality protein with each meal in order to limit muscle mass loss. The following resistance exercises can be completed during bed rest. Palm Stretch 1. Open your palm and stretch your fingers freely for five seconds. 2. Touch each finger to your thumb. 3. Repeat the same process on the opposite hand. 4. Repeat 10 times with each hand. Arm Lifts 1. Lay on your back. Place your arms next to your body. Lift one arm straight up until it is 90⁰ with your body. 2. Hold your arm in this position for 10 seconds or more if you do not feel any pain when going beyond 10 seconds. 3. Lower your arm next to your body. 4. Repeat the exercise with the other arm. 5. Repeat 10 times with each arm. Straight Leg Lifts 1. Have both legs together, flat on the bed. 2. Slightly lift one leg up. Make sure to keep it as straight as possible. 3.  Hold it lifted for 10 to 20 seconds. 4. Return the leg to its original position. 5. Repeat on the opposite leg. 6. Repeat 10 times with each leg. Thigh Squeezers 1. Have your legs together. Bend both legs at the knees with your feet flat on the bed. 2. Place a moderately soft/long pillow or a soft ball between your knees. 3. Squeeze the pillow or ball with your knees and hold it for 10 seconds. 4. Release the squeeze and rest for 10 seconds. 5. Repeat 10 times. Hip Lifts 1. Lay on your back with one leg straight on the bed and the other leg bent with the foot flat on the bed. 2. Lift your buttocks toward the ceiling using the muscles of the bent leg. 3. Repeat 10 times. 4. Rest and repeat with the other leg. Dr. Harry Papadopoulos is an Associate Professor of Exercise Science at Pacific Lutheran University and a certified Health and Fitness Instructor by the American College of Sports Medicine. His research interests are in fall prevention and physical activity interventions for older adults. You can contact Dr. Papadopoulos at [email protected] if you have any questions.