7- Exercises to do when you are given bed rest

Bed-ridden patients need not lie idle. If they do that metabolic functioning will come to stand still and that will aggravate deterioration of an already ailing health.  A number of exercises for bed-ridden patients are recommended for speedy recovery of health. Equally important is to keep an eye that the patient doesn’t pick up bed sore or contractures. 

Bed-ridden patients are not expected to carry on vigorous workouts. Exercises advised must be effortless not putting too much strain on the infirm. It should address people of all age groups, especially the seniors whose vigor is on the wane.  Instructions on workouts for bed-bound elderly should come from certified professionals who would do well to comfort them mentally as well.

7 Effortless exercises for people on bed rest:

Seniors in bed seldom need exercise equipment for their regular workouts. The following effortless exercises will help your loved one improve blood circulation and stimulate muscles so that they can be back on their feet soon.

Hand and finger stretches:

Hand and finger stretchesThese are very simple exercises for bed-ridden patients which can be done without any assistance. Stretching movements of hands and fingers improve the dexterity of muscles helping patients have a better grip on substances. They would be able to eat with their own hands and use phones, remote controls, combs, toothbrush etc. without anybody’s support.

  • Bend all the fingers of your hand in a closed fist for a few seconds.
  • Open your palm and gently stretch your fingers one by one.
  • Make each finger touch your thumb.
  • Repeat the steps for few times with both the hands.

You can practice this for a number of times. This will gradually ease out the stiffness of your fingers. If you are too weak to perform this exercise, ask your caregiver or family member to help you.

Arm lifts:

This is one of the basic physical exercises for bed-ridden patients especially a part of stroke rehabilitation program of the seniors. A caregiver or physiotherapist may need to help in carrying out the process. This helps in strengthening the muscles enabling the seniors to hold and move objects.

  • Start with the dominant hand. Lift your arm as high as possible. If you feel this too difficult, then rest your arm on the backrest of your bed or on pillows and lift the elbow at 90° angle.
  • Lift your arm and hold it for 10 seconds. This can be extended to 30 seconds gradually if you do not experience in pain.
  • Repeat the same with the other arm.

Leg lifts:

leg-lift.This is another common exercise for patients confined to beds for a long time. Lifting the leg one at a time for a few minutes help in improving blood circulation and strengthen muscles and thereby prevent bed sores. A caregiver may be required for elderly patients while younger ones who are temporarily bed-ridden owing to an injury or accident can do it by themselves.

  • Keep your legs joined parallel to your bed.
  • Slightly lift your left leg keeping it straight.
  • Then slowly bring it towards the hip joint and maintain that posture for 10-20 seconds.
  • Allow the leg to go back to its original position.
  • Repeat the same process with the other leg.

Side Rolls:

Side-RollsSide rolls are very useful to prevent pressure ulcers or bed sores, the prime complications that arise with bed-ridden patients. These patients should be turned on their sides every alternate 15-30 minute without causing any discomfort. The patient may do this by himself or assisted by a caregiver.

  • Remain lied down on your back. Then turn on the right side and maintain the position for about 30 minutes. You can seek help from somebody to place your limbs comfortably.
  • Again get back to the original lying position. Maintain it for 20-30 minutes.
  • Then turn to your left side. Be in that position for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat this process throughout the day. Take care to maintain mobility of the limbs and hips.

Range of motion (ROM) exercises for those with knee flexion contractures:

ROMSeniors in bed for a considerable period of time are likely to develop knee flexion contractures in which the tissues of the knee joint get hardened owing to prolonged immobilization. The Range of Motion exercises are very useful for them to improve mobility but should be done under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

ROM exercises would include stretching, bending and rotating of knees to facilitate increased blood flow in the knee joints enabling free movement in walking and climbing stairs. These exercises for bed-ridden patients may be active, passive or active assisted.

The active exercises can be done by own without anybody’s assistance, the passive ones do not involve any direct patient participation as it these are done by caregivers or therapists and the active-assisted exercises would require some assistance from others.

  • Passive knee rotation: The knee is bent in the manner that the foot of the affected leg rests on the mat or bed and the leg is rolled inward as much as possible. Then it is stretched outward as far as possible.
  • Passive exercises on the hip and knee joints: This is one of the common workouts for the bed-bound elderly. A hand is placed under the knee and then it is bent over your chest to the best possible limit. The therapist places the hand from the knee to the upper thigh to make the knee bend as much as possible.
  • Passive stretching exercises for bed-ridden patients: The therapist places one hand of the top of the thigh and the other hand below the affected knee. The leg is raised by application of pressure with both hands. The stretch is maintained till you count 25. The stretch is then increased a bit and held till you count 25. This is done for 5-10 minutes several times a day as recommended by the physician.

Simple muscular contractions:

Simple muscular contractionsThis is perhaps the simplest of all exercises for bed-ridden patients. You can do isometric muscle contractions of your abdomen, buttocks, biceps, triceps and quadriceps to strengthen them. These do not require any exercise equipment but can be done easily remaining confined in bed.

Pelvic tilts:

Pelvic tiltsA great way to tone your pelvic and abdominal muscles. It would also reduce the tension and compression of your spine that results from prolonged confinement in bed. Lie on your back and bend your knees with the feet resting flat on the bed.

Extend your tailbone towards the heels and then slightly contract between your legs and pubic bone. Reverse the direction of movement and go back so that you feel your lumbar spine a bit extended. There may be a feeling of tightness in the lumber at the initial stage but do it gently and keep on practicing it.

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