Running with a prosthetic leg is a big hurdle for many amputees, but the task is easier than it used to be. Prostheses have advanced really far and the “blade runner” in the 2012 olympics was a controversial and surprising sight for a lot of people who didn’t know it could be done. No matter your circumstances, running with a prosthetic is still more difficult than running without one, and there are a number of things to keep in mind as you set out to accomplish what was once unthinkable.
First, your body will inevitably expend a lot more energy with a prosthetic than without. This is especially true for those whose amputations occurred above the knee. First and foremost, train your body using endurance exercises to mitigate the increased effort requirements. In addition, you’ll need to pack in extra calories and fluids if taking part in long-distance running competitions like marathons or ultramarathons.
Even if your prosthetic is designed to help you run more efficiently (and if you’re a runner, you should find one of those), it’s very difficult to find the right balance. The natural inclination of an amputee is to place weight on the healthy leg. That means that even if your prosthetic leg is perfectly fitted for your body, you’re still more likely to deal with asymmetrical loading issues. This can cause overuse injuries or undue straining.
Another issue that is difficult to overcome is discomfort. Even a great prosthetic can still become uncomfortable at times, leading to soreness or even pain. These issues can be greatly exacerbated when trying to run. As soon as a problem arises, you must speak with your prosthetist. Consider keeping a diary for the first week or two in order to keep track of results.
When starting out, don’t overdo it. Run for ten minutes. Check for injury, redness, swelling, and inflammation. Rinse and repeat. The second day out, check every twenty minutes. Take your time and you should avoid serious injury.
If you’re not sure whether or not you have the proper form, then find a friend to help you out. Consider videotaping yourself while running to determine whether or not improvements can be made and where. Don’t be afraid to share your journey with your prosthetist.