Strengthening Your Upper Residual Limb
by Amber Henson, on Aug 1, 2023
People with an amputation or limb difference need to give some extra attention to their residual limb. These limbs take on the difficult work of supporting a prosthesis. Residual limbs need to be cared for on a daily basis and the muscles need to be exercised. Stretching and exercising the residual limb can help improve its function, with or without a prosthesis, and also reduce the risk of overuse on the sound side. Our clinical therapy specialists recommend residual limb strengthening to people with amputations to help rebuild muscle that may have been lost during recovery. For people with a limb difference, strengthening prepares their residual limb for the weight of a prosthesis.
You’d be surprised what you can achieve with a little elastic band, also known as a resistance band. With some guidance from a clinical therapy specialist, you can do short, daily exercises that will get your residual limb ready for a prosthesis. Your clinical therapy specialist may be able to recommend a specific resistance band or you can find some suggestions here. Ottobock, a manufacturer of prosthetic devices, has a fitness app — you can check it out for Android or iOS.
Yoga can be an excellent way to stretch and strengthen your residual limb. While some people with an upper limb difference may choose not to wear a prosthesis when doing yoga, this limits their ability to do poses and can also lead to imbalances or injuries to the body. Before she had an activity-specific device, Shaholly (pictured below), who has a congenital limb difference, tried doing yoga without a prosthesis. ”I didn’t care for it because it felt very asymmetrical. And I think it’s really important to use my limb different side as much as possible since it’s more atrophied and needs to be strengthened.” You can learn more in our article, “Yoga with an Upper Limb Prosthesis.”
Your Clinical Therapy Specialist Knows Best
You know that warning on all gym equipment and before all exercise videos, about how you should consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine? Well, it’s the same thing with starting a new routine to exercise your residual limb! Strengthening your residual limb is something that our clinical therapy specialists do with our patients during our Comprehensive Accelerated Fitting Process™, but it’s something you can start even before that. When you speak to our clinical team during your complimentary consultation, either in person or via video chat, you can ask the therapist, “How can I strengthen my residual limb?” Insurance approvals for coverage of prostheses can sometimes take months, and you can use that time improving your strength so that you’re ready for that prosthesis when it’s ready for you.
If you’d like to learn more during a complimentary consultation, please contact us. If you have tips for others with upper limb difference, please leave a comment below. We hope you have found this article helpful.