As a below knee amputee, you will not often have difficulty in going up and down stairs once you have been taught by your physiotherapist. You will notice however, that when walking down slopes your knee may feel unstable, like it is going to collapse forward. This is more noticeable on steep slopes and when using a prosthesis that has no movement at the ankle joint. Physics is to blame here and so you need to strengthen your muscles that control your knee to counteract it.
The muscles responsible for a smooth walking action down slopes are the quadriceps and they are often weak “eccentrically,” that is when performing a lengthening action. The reasons for this can include: the inability to practice this type of exercise before the fitting of your prosthesis and pressure around the muscle itself from the suspension of your prosthesis.
Therefore, it is important to do some “eccentric” or specific knee control exercises to smarten up the action of your quadriceps as you smoothly descend slopes. There are 3 exercises to achieve this in Chapter 9 of the Amputee Coach Book that are marked for “below
knee amputees only”
- the buttock and knee strengthening exercise-step
- the squat
- the innerrange knee strengthening exercise.
If you put these exercises into your routine you will find that your knee control going down slopes will improve. Not only that, but you will walk up slopes with greater ease and may eventually be able to progress to walking up and down stairs, step over step instead of one step at a time.
Please feel free to leave your questions, comments and feedback below.
until next time … Cathy … The Amputee Coach
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