Maintaining Proper Running Form with a Prosthesis

running prosthesis

Losing a limb is a big life adjustment, as is learning to live life with a prosthetic device. It can feel daunting at first, but soon you’ll return to most, if not all, of your normal activities! One hurdle in losing a leg is learning to run with your lower limb prosthesis. It’s an ongoing process, but we have some tips and things to keep in mind to get you started.

Energy Expenditure

Something important to think about while starting to run again with your prosthesis, is energy expenditure. Energy-wise, the cost of running on a prosthetic device is much greater than it is when running with two legs. Endurance exercise will be crucial in your process as you get used to running again. Also keep in mind that there are running specific prostheses! Using one of these as opposed to an everyday walking prosthesis will greatly reduce your energy cost, and you’ll be able to do more.


Asymmetry is a very common problem in running, and essentially refers to an asymmetrical loading of the limbs. This means that more weight, and essentially more trust, is placed in the sound limb for various reasons. A lack of trust in your prosthesis, discomfort, or lack of strength in your residual limb can all contribute to asymmetry in your running. When more time and weight is spent on the sound limb, it’s subjected to extra force, and this can result in injury.

Wearing Schedule

While there’s a set schedule for wearing your prosthetic device when relearning how to walk, there isn’t one for relearning how to run. The basic rule of thumb is to start slowly, and pay close attention to your body. In the first week or so of running, be extra aware of your socket fit and make note of any discomfort you notice. If something feels off, talk to your prosthetist.

Once you start running with your prosthesis, take it a little bit at a time. At the beginning, don’t run more than 10 minutes without stopping. Stop to rest and to see if any red spots are appearing on your residual limb. Make sure you’re aware of anything that could be rubbing or irritating your skin.

Also keep in mind how long ago your amputation was—if your amputation was years ago, you may immediately be able to tolerate the weight put on you residual limb. If your amputation was more recent, it’ll take some time to adjust. Remember that too much too soon can easily result in injuries, which will only hold you back further. Running is something to ease yourself into—don’t push yourself too hard, and give yourself plenty of time to rest.

Running Examples

One of the most beneficial things you can do as you start incorporating running back into your life is watch videos of people running with their prostheses. There are plenty of video examples out there showing the form you should strive toward, as well as bad examples of common problems people experience while transitioning to this kind of running. The key to progress is self-awareness! Have a friend of family member take a video of you running, so you can better analyze your own form compared to examples you’ve researched.

Forefoot Strike Running with a Prosthesis

Forefoot strike running is a specific form of running with a prosthetic device and could be helpful to try. In this form, the runner lands on the ball of their foot instead of letting their heel have initial contact with the ground or treadmill. If you’ve looked at running prostheses, you’ll notice that there is no heel, so on that “foot,” it would be like running on your tiptoes.

The idea with this running form is to adjust your sound limb to run like your prosthetic device to reduce asymmetry. If you’re tiptoe running on your prosthetic leg, and running “normally” (heel then toe) on your other leg, this can result in serious form errors and even injury. If you’ve had both legs amputated, this isn’t something you need to practice—both your prostheses will automatically land in this position.

Forefront strike running places different demands on the muscles in your calf and foot, so you’ll need to focus on strengthening those muscles before you completely transition. It will be a slow transition, but be patient—it will help you avoid serious injuries that could keep you from running altogether! Also be aware that, if you’ve had ankle problems in the past, this form of running may not be for you.

Talk to your physical therapist about specific training regimens for you! Everyone is different, and everyone will transition at their own pace—be patient, listen to your body and your physical therapist, and you’ll be running again in no time!

For more information, tips, and support, contact Biotech today!

Paralympic Athlete Profile: Blake Leeper

running prosthetic

The Paralympic Games are a shining example of all that is good in this world. They feature athletes who, despite their physical limitations, rise above and recognize their possibilities. One Paralympic athlete, Blake Leeper, is an example of this determination in the face of adversity.

Blake Leeper was born in Kingsport, Tennessee. Neither one of his legs developed below the knee. Thus, he’s worn prosthetic devices since he was only nine months old.

Doctors told him that he would never be able to walk, but at a young age, his interest in sports was piqued. At the age of nine, he received his first pair of “real legs,” as he calls them, and he was more than walking in no time. He took a particular liking to basketball, and he became very active on the court.  In no time, he got his first custom running prosthetic device and the possibilities became limitless.

Pursuing Athletic Excellence

Blake credits his supportive parents for his success. At a young age, they told him that he should never let his disability define him. With the help of his running prosthetic legs, he was capable of recognizing his possibilities by participating in the Paralympic Games.

Blake has been quoted as saying, "The only true disability in life is a bad attitude." He got his start when he attended the University of Tennessee and qualified for the Paralympic race in the 2012 Paralympic Games which were held in London, England. He then set a world record in 2014 at the World’s Paralympic Championships in the 4x100 relay.

In 2009, 2011, and 2012, Blake won medals for his performance in the World Championships and the Paralympics in a variety of events, ranging from the 4x100m relay, the 200m sprint, and the 400m run.

At only twenty-five years old,  Blake was shooting and dribbling his way to Madison Square Garden as the first double-amputee to grace an official NBA court during the 2015 NBA Celebrity All-Star game.

Moving Forward: the Future

Blake continues to use his success to do good in his community and the nation as a whole. He works with fundraising teams and awareness organizations to help others with disabilities. He is also rumored to be the star of a modern documentary following his life, past and present, entitled, “American Blade Runner: the Road to Rio.” The dream is that through this film, his story will hopefully inspire millions of viewers to rise above and achieve their dreams no matter what limitations they may have.

Recognize Your Possibilities with a Running Prosthetic Leg

We are committed to personal service and patient satisfaction at BioTech Limb and Brace in Birmingham, AL. We would be honored to help you recognize your possibilities today with the help of a running prosthetic leg or an orthopedic device.

At BioTech, each patient is like family. We are committed to ensuring that your experience with us is personal and encouraging.