Cover Image
close this bookWhere Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)
close this folderChapter 9: Women with Disabilities
close this folderTaking Care of Your Health
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentKnowing when you are sick
View the documentSkin care
View the documentExercise


Some women - for example, those who suffer from arthritis or strokes, or who are in bed because of AIDS or old age - have difficulty moving their arms and legs enough to keep their joints flexible. When this happens, and an arm or a leg is kept bent for a long time, some of the muscles become shorter and the limb cannot fully straighten. Or short muscles may hold a joint straight so that it cannot bend. This is called a ‘contracture’. Sometimes contractures cause pain.


To prevent contractures and keep your muscles strong, you need to find someone who can help you exercise your arms and legs every day. Try to make sure that every part of your body is moved. If you have had contractures for many years, it will be difficult to completely straighten your joints. But these exercises will prevent the contractures from getting worse and can make your joints a little less stiff and keep your muscles strong.

Examples of exercises that prevent some contractures and help keep muscles strong

To exercise the front of the upper leg

To exercise the bock of the upper leg

To exercise the lower leg

To exercise the arms

If a joint has been bent for a long time, be gentle. Do not try to force it straight