I have a 74 year old male client who is awaiting a knee replacement (the other knee has already been replaced). He has had numerous surgeries (quadruple bypass, brain stem, removal of fluid from his knee, etc.) and is a real trooper. He cannot stand for very long so I have been doing most of my workouts with him in a chair. He would like to build more leg strength so he can stop using his walker and use a cane but it is very difficult to work his lower body with strength building exercises. Any suggestions on what I should be doing to (1) build his leg strength up and (2) keep him from getting frustrated until he gets his knee surgery?
Chair exercises can be a great way to build leg strength! Resistance tubing is a versatile way to work many parts of the body- have him wrap it around his thighs or (seated or standing) step on the tube & move feet (or thighs) out & in to work inner & outer thighs. Resistance can be increased by crossing the band in front of the shins or shortening the tube length by gripping it further from the handles. If you have dumbells available, have him rest them about mid-thigh on one or both legs. He can practice raising one foot & then try leg extensions for hip flexors & quads.
A ball against a chair leg can be a great hamstring workout waiting to happen- just have him put his heel on the ball & try to “pop” it. This can be done with fast “pulses” or for a longer hold (great way to measure a starting point & progress). Also don’t be afraid to think outside the box- try “chair walks” by “walking” the glutes forward & backward (from the back of the seat to the front & vice versa) & use the chair to assist with balance during standing exercises. Keep encouraging him & if he’s still frustrated try to help him channel it into his exercises. Remind him that he’s making progress & not to worry about what can’t be helped- to just work around it.
Sounds like you’re on the right track. Karin has a good point that to get better at walking, he’ll have to walk! I like the idea of water workouts as well since there’s very little impact & lots of potential resistance but didn’t know if you have pool access? Make sure he’s medically cleared for everything you do with him. Feel free to contact me if you want more ideas!