10 Post Stroke Exercises Recommended by World-Class Physiotherapists

Woman Training With Exercise Band
(Last Updated On: July 28, 2017)
  • Worldwide, Stroke is the 2nd commonest cause of death after Heart Attack.
  • Women are more affected by Stroke than Men.
  • Every 4 minutes, someone dies of Stroke.
  • Currently, Stroke incidence in India is much higher than Western Industrialized Countries.

A stroke is a BRAIN ATTACK. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells begin to die due to lack of oxygen, thereby affecting the abilities controlled by that area of the brain, for example, speech and muscle control are lost.

Risk Factors

  • Hereditary
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Poor Public Awareness
  • Inadequate Infrastructure
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Ignorance of symptoms


  • Breathlessness or Heart Palpitations
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Troubled or blurry vision
  • Weak arm or leg especially on one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding, thereby, creating confusion
  • Fatigue or mental changes
  • Droopy face

Post-Stroke Exercises

1) To strengthen the muscles that stabilizes the shoulder

  • Lie on your back, lift your affected hand with elbow straight towards the ceiling and try to hold it for 3-5 seconds and relax
  • By using manual resistance in opposite direction of the movement of the shoulder
  • By making the patient sit with full weight over the affected hand by the side

2) To improve Hip and Knee control on the affected side


  • Lie on your back with the affected knee bend and foot resting on the floor
  • Now, try to push your affected leg and straighten up your knee with heel in contact with the floor or bed throughout the movement

3) To improve weight shift and control of leg movements along with back


  • Lie on your back with both the knees bend and feet together
  • Now, taking weight over your legs, try to lift your back up and hold it for 3-5 seconds and relax
  • While lifting your back up, you can lift up your non-affected side up, so that whole weight comes over the affected side, also, shifting of weight can be done from right leg to left leg in holding position and vice-versa

4) To improve balance and control while walking

  • Take weight over your hands and legs in a cat position and do rocking movements in front and back over your hands and legs and try to hold the position as long as you can
  • Diagonal rocking over your hands and legs can also be done in the same position
  • Also, if possible, with or without support, try to stand over your knees and try to hold the position as long as you can


5) Weight bearing exercises on the legs

  • Stand with the help of walker and try to lift the non-affected side and hold it for 5 seconds and relax
  • Also, stand with the help of walker and keep your affected leg in front of non-affected leg and shift weight over the affected leg and hold it for 5 seconds and relax
  • Also, pushing of non-affected leg front and back can be done with the help of walker, to increase weight bearing time on the affected side
  • Also, sideways movements of the affected as well as non-affected leg can be done to strengthen hip muscles

6) Stretching exercises

  • Stretching of finger and wrist in hand & calf and hamstrings in legs to prevent joint contracture and muscle shortening
  • Required a splint to help in stretching tight joint and muscles. Eg-Cock-up splint

7) To strengthen the elbow

  • Lie on your back and try to straighten up your elbow from bend position
  • Try to hold your elbow at different angles while straightening up the elbow
  • Manual resistance in opposite direction of the movement or weight cuffs can also be used in the later stage, as per your tolerance

8) To reduce stiffness of Back

  • Sit on a firm straight chair with both feet flat on the floor. If necessary, a firm mattress, sofa, or wheelchair may be used
  • Lock your fingers of both the hands
  • Bend forward and reach with your hands toward the outside of your right foot, rotating your trunk
  • Move your hands upward in a diagonal direction toward your left shoulder, keeping your elbows as straight as possible
  • Repeat the movement, moving your hands from your left foot to your right shoulder

Note: This exercise can also be performed in standing position. If balance is impaired, an assistant may stand in front, guiding the arms through the motions. 

9) Rolling

  • Rolling can be performed on firm mattresses or bed or on the floor
  • Interlock your fingers of both the hands and straighten up your elbows with hand above the shoulder
  • Roll on either side of the bed and repeat the same for 2-3 times, as per your tolerance

10) Brain Exercises

  • These may involve exercises to improve memory, problem solving, reasoning, following directions, initiation of activity, and comprehension
  • Proper Counselling of patient is very important to cop-up with depression, anger, negligence of exercises
  • Patient and family education regarding the condition and treatment is very important

Looking for Physiotherapy at Home? Get it from Portea. You can now also download Portea’s Mobile App and book physiotherapy sessions on the go.

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Dr. Harsh Agrawal holds a Master’s degree in Neuro-Physiotherapy from ITS Paramedical College, GZB. He is specialized in neurological conditions and have over 4 years of experience in treating patients. Besides working as a therapist, he has keen interest in sports and researches. He quotes, “Hitch your Wagon to a Star”.



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