Six Physical Therapy Exercises You Can Try at Home

Physical therapy is a treatment method designed to help restore function and movement while also promoting healing and pain relief. It can help patients of all ages with medical conditions, illnesses or injuries that limit their abilities to move and function normally and can help encourage active and healthy lifestyle changes to improve overall health and well-being. Here at UT Health Austin, physical therapy is an important part of the healing process and it is often included in treatment plans for our Musculoskeletal Institute and Women’s Health Institute. It can provide a variety of benefits throughout the recovery process and our trained therapists can assess your needs and develop a treatment plan that is customized to you.

Benefits of physical therapy include:

  • Strengthens and stretches muscles and joints
  • Helps patients recovery after surgery or can help patients avoid surgery completely
  • Improves overall function and mobility
  • Helps patients recover from or prevent sports-related injuries
  • Manages age-related issues such as arthritis
  • Improve outcomes by helping you reach your goals and return to your daily activities

Although physical therapy can be a very targeted treatment option for certain conditions, there are also stretches and exercises you can do on your own to strengthen muscles and help to prevent injury.

Here are six exercises recommended by our UT Health Austin physical therapists:


Hamstring Stretch

Step 1

Lie on your back, raise your left leg, clasp your hands around the back of your left thigh, pulling your knee close to your chest.

Step 2

Keeping your knee near your chest, slowly straighten your left knee until you feel a stretch on the back of your left thigh. (It is OK if you don’t get your knee fully straight, as long as you feel a good stretch.) Hold for 30-45 seconds, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

Piriformis Stretch

Step 1

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Cross the right ankle over the left knee.

Step 2

Clasp your hands around your left thigh, pull your left thigh/knee toward your chest. You should feel the stretch around the right buttock, hip, and back of thigh. Hold for 30-45 seconds, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

Standing Hip Flexor

Step 1

Stand facing a bench (or high step or sturdy chair), both feet pointing forward. Place your left foot up on the bench, with your foot planted past your knee (angle of knee bend is more than 90 degrees).

Step 2

Slowly shift your weight forward toward the foot on the bench, until you feel some stretch on the front of the right hip (you may also feel some stretch in your right calf). Hold for 30-45 seconds, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.


Straight Leg Raise

Step 1

Lie on your back, bend your right knee, keep your left foot planted.

Step 2

Point the toes of your left foot toward the ceiling, slowly lift your left leg (keeping your left knee straight) to about 45 degrees, then slowly lower back to the floor – feel the front of the thigh muscles working throughout the movement. 10-20 repetitions, repeat on the opposite side.


Step 1

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet close to buttocks and a little wider than hip distance apart.

Step 2

Squeeze your gluteal muscles to slowly raise the pelvis up from the floor, keep your knees aligned over your ankles. Hold the top position 3-5 seconds, then slowly lower down to start position. 10-20 repetitions.


Step 1

Lie on your left side, bent arm supporting your head, knees bent to 90 degrees, knees and ankles stacked.

Step 2

Slowly raise the right knee from the left, keeping your ankles together (do not allow your pelvis to roll back or open), feel the effort in the right thigh/buttock. Slowly lower back to start position. 10-20 repetitions, repeat on the opposite side.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin, the group practice designed and managed by the faculty and staff of the Dell Medical School, focuses the expertise of a team of experienced medical professionals to deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality. Our experienced healthcare professionals treat each patient as an individual, with unique circumstances, priorities and beliefs. Working with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room, and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.