If you are an amputee, it is important to know how to exercise properly in order to maintain your muscle mass and limit joint contractures. Exercising with a prosthesis can be difficult, so it is important to use a mode of exercise that will produce the best results. In this blog post, we will discuss the best exercises for amputees and how to perform them correctly.
An amputation, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), is a surgical removal of part or all of a limb. About 2 million people in the United States have lost a limb. Most are lower-limb amputations caused by vascular diseases such as type 2 diabetes or peripheral vessel disease.
The majority of individuals who suffer from vascular disease and require lower limb amputation are over the age of 55, with around 90 percent having Type 2 diabetes or atherosclerosis as a cause of their limb loss.
Exercising with a Lower Limb Amputation
In general, individuals with lower limb amputation can do the same physical activity as everyone else. Individuals who have had a limb amputation should utilize a form of exercise that will maximize their remaining muscle mass and not cause skin breakdown or overuse injuries.
When considering specific exercises for amputees, the type of physical exercise that is recommended depends on the degree of limb loss in the lower leg(s). Levels of lower limb amputation include:
- Symes: amputation of the forefoot or mid-foot, usually leaving the heel bone intact
- Transtibial: Below the knee
- Transfemoral: Above the knee
- Hip Disarticulation: Removal at the femoral hip joint
- Unilateral: Involving one limb
- Bilateral: Involving two limbs
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, The purpose of aerobic exercise for amputees is to improve cardiac fitness and endurance in both the active and inactive limbs, as well as mobility and daily living efficiency. Lower limb amputees should be exercising aerobically 4 to 7 days per week. However, due to the level of amputation or physical fitness it may be appropriate to begin with a lesser amount of activity and gradually increase over time.
Weight training is important in this population to increase strength in the trunk, hips, and uninvolved limb as well as make it easier to complete daily routines and tasks. Weight training should be performed 2 to 3 days per week. These individuals should be performing at least 2 upper-body, 1 core, and 2 lower body exercises per session. Flexibility should be performed at the end of every exercise session to maintain range of motion.
As with any population, there are special considerations that must be taken into account when creating an exercise program. Our personal training experts at Noco Fitness in Greeley, Colorado are here to help with an exercise program tailor-made for your specific amputation and fitness level.
NoCo Fitness Client Spotlight: John
John had his leg amputated around the knee back in 2016, but you would never be able to tell by his attitude. John is a very hard working, determined, humble and just overall a great person in every aspect of the term. John comes in ready to work and to do whatever needs to be done that day. His attitude and smile are contagious around the gym and his presence alone brightens every persons day. He is 70 years old and absolutely cruising past his goals. He has been working with trainers Dante and RJ who come up with creative and different ways to help improve his mobility and stability. We couldn’t be more proud and happy for John and all that he has accomplished.