Exercising When You Have an Upper Limb Difference
by Amber Henson, on Jan 10, 2023
There are three general types of exercise we’ll be exploring in this article: endurance, strength and balance/flexibility. Each type of exercise has options for people with an upper limb difference however, performing repetitive movements without both limbs can result in balance and overuse issues. Ideally, exercise should be performed with proper body mechanics and a balanced posture to prevent injury. The best way to achieve this is to use a prosthesis while exercising. For many exercises, an activity-specific device is an ideal tool that’s designed to safely support that particular exercise.
Several types of endurance exercises can be performed outside of a gym. Walking is a great, low-impact way to get many of the health benefits of movement, especially if you keep up the pace. You can walk and run without an upper limb prosthesis, but you may find that your body is more balanced when wearing one. Dancing and swimming are other excellent options. You can see an activity-specific swimming prosthesis in the video below:
A strong, muscular body can help you maintain an independent lifestyle. Weightlifting and meeting personal fitness goals can also be an ego boost after an amputation. We have three patient profile videos that feature our patients weightlifting at the gym: Max Okun, Wendi Parker and Claudia Castellanos. We also have a blog article on the subject, Weightlifting with an Upper Limb Prosthesis.
Tai Chi and yoga provide excellent exercise and promote mindfulness and breathing practices that help with pain management.
Our patient Angel Giuffria is a fan of yoga, and you can see her using her activity-specific device for many of her poses in her patient profile video below:
What exercises would you like to get back into or try for the first time? Our holistic approach to prosthetic care means your goals are our goals. We collaborate with our patients to determine what activities are most meaningful to them so we can create a prosthesis and prosthetic care plan to meet a person’s goals. Additionally, many of our prosthetists and clinical therapy specialists have been able to join their patients at the gym, swimming pool or yoga studio to observe and give tips about proper body mechanics. If the prosthesis isn’t working for our patient in the environment they want to be in, we want to fix it!
If you would like to learn more about how our clinical team members can get you working out the way you want, please contact us. If you have experience with exercising with a prosthetic device, we would love for you to leave us a comment below.
For more information, see related Arm Dynamics articles here: