“They told me I couldn’t, that’s why I did” – unknown
I love this quote! I remember as a kid my parents encouraged me to sign up for every sport my school offered. Outside of school, I took ballet, ice-skating, and piano lessons too! I wanted to try everything I could, and really push my limits. I learned a lot about myself and became an excellent user because I really learned the ins & outs of wearing a prosthesis. Here are some tips & tricks to get back out there & do the things you love!
Cylcing as a lower limb amputee can be challenging to say the least. I struggle just to keep my foot on the pedal. My right leg provides no power while pedaling either. I don’t bike in a super straight line & feel nervous on turns. I have found a tremendously helpful tool – CLIPINS! I had read about them & seen other cyclists use them, but was apprehensive. I was nervous about not being able to get my foot back off the pedal whenever I wanted. You can choose the tension in the pedal, however. It is tight enough to keep my foot on the pedal, but loose enough that I can get out quickly. It has also improved my strength on uphills, and kept my knee much more aligned!
Watersports are some of my favorite pasttimes. I love skiing, paddle boarding, wakeboarding, and anything water. I chose to have a leg that is not so cosmetically appealing. I look like a robot, but I can go from land to water instantly. When I am doing a watersport behind a boat I have a little trick to ensure I don’t lose my very expensive appendage. I cut a pool noodle in half & then cut it long-ways. Clamp that sucker around the pylon & add some duct tape and you will be able to circle around to a floating leg!
Hiking as an amputee is my absolute passion! I have an entire post just about it here. I will say that the biggest trick for me was getting trekking poles. I had done research about them, and seen plenty of hikers using them out on the trails. I was worried about not having my hands free. They make a huge difference in stability & my confidence out on the trail. My descents are much faster as I am walking foot after foot. I had been inching my way down hills. My stream crossings are a lot less nerve-wracking.
Another huge trick during the winter hikes is micro spikes. My stability on dry flat ground isn’t great, but on icy, uneven terrain it is abysmal. Micro spikes almost feels like your foot is velcroed to the ice! I am able to plant my fake foot & pick it up. Previously it would just slip & slide all over.
(Here is a link to the Micro Spikes I use Kahtoola MICROspikes )
Rock climbing is a major stress reliever for me. It is something you can go do after a hard day at work. You have a route you can conquer in a matter of minutes. Small continuous victories. I have climbed both with and without my prosthesis. I prefer climbing with it because even though I can’t feel beneath my foot, I have another limb to stand on and it allows me to rest my other three. When I climb without my leg it relieves some weight and doesn’t allow me to tire out as quickly. I have considered designing my own prosthesis for rock climbing because my daily prosthesis is just not very beneficial. However, I can’t wait around in the mean time so “Onward and upward”.
For some watersports I just go without a leg. I competed on my high school swim team and didn’t wear a leg then! I learned how to swim a straight line with one kicker & even placed in many of my events. I have since gone on to compete in triathlons where you are not allowed to wear a prosthesis in the swim portion or you will be disqualified. It is more of a nuisance to swim with it anyway!
A running blade makes a world of difference. I think that this seems like an obvious solution, but it is a very expensive solution. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it. I hated the feeling of my real knee pounding into my socket. I had a lot of pain involved with running. Once I started running on a blade I still had pain…WHAT? This was supposed to be a solution, but it is a big learning curve. I wasn’t running good form. I had been used to short strides with my walking foot, but with a blade you can & should take much longer strides. I learned and trained & improved my running quite a bit. I actually enjoy running now, but still wouldn’t call it my favorite sport haha.