Exercise is an important habit to have for anybody, but it’s especially important for amputees to make sure they maintain their mobility and overall health. Once you’ve fully recovered from your amputation with the help of rehabilitative exercises and you’ve completely adjusted to your prosthesis, it’s important to continue to stay active. You may be ready for some more complex exercises that strengthen your whole body, not just your residual limb. If these inspiring athletes can do it, you can too!
You may feel ready to take on the world after you’re healed and rehabilitated, but it’s important to remember that your body is still adjusting subtly. It’s likely that your life became more sedentary for a time after the amputation so your body may feel better, but just like anyone else who has taken time off from activity, it’s important to start slow.
Take Star Strahan’s story for example: she was amputated at the age of 12 as a result of bone cancer. After a very active youth, she was limited in the activities she could participate in. 25 years later, she was finally fitted with a running prosthetic and she was ready to go. In her story, she says: “I had no idea how to use it without hurting myself. It wasn’t so much the running that scared me—it was the stopping. My fear of a face-plant on pavement was real.”
For anybody, activity can come with injuries. Make sure you’re fully equipped to know how to take care of your prosthetic and residual limb if you do find yourself with an injury. Consider starting on a stationary bike before trying to run.
The best way to support your new found activity level is to strengthen your body first. Your body behaves differently with your prosthetic and you’ll need to build muscle in new places to support your movement. A strong core will help take the pressure off your legs as well as help you stay balanced as you start to lengthen your gait.
ProstheticRunning.com and the International Committee of the Red Cross have great instructional resources for achieving this goal.
Find Others Like You
If you feel uncomfortable hitting a public trail for your workout, our first piece of advice is to embrace confidence! Second, try to find other amputees who are seeking an active lifestyle just like you. There are groups all over the country for those who want to work out together. There are even organizations that build adaptive workout programs such as Crossroads Alliance’s Adaptive Crossfit.
However you choose to get active, keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race and to keep your eyes on the prize!