Now that the weather is warming up people are gearing up to get outside. Outdoor activities can be a challenge for those living with an amputation but not impossible. There are many options to assist in any activity that you might want to do outside. Biking is a popular pastime and can be good for your mental and physical health.
If you have just received an amputation or even if you have used a prothesis for years, you might be thinking about taking up biking as a hobby. Biking can be a good activity as it does not put a lot of pressure on your residual limb. There are a few barriers, however, that might deter a person with an amputation from taking up the hobby but just know that working with your Prosthetist will help to find the answers you are looking for.
Finding the right prosthesis to make your cycling the most comfortable will be a big contributing factor to the success and longevity of the activity. Depending on your situation you might be able to use your current prosthesis and adjust your bike to it, or perhaps your prosthesis could be adjusted to accommodate.
Finding the pedals that are going to work best for you is another key part of cycling. There are a few options out there including toe clips or even something as simple as Velcro straps. Velcro straps can be done on your own on a regular bicycle.
If you received an upper-limb amputation, depending on what type of bicycle you plan to ride, you may need to adjust the handlebars. If you need to control the brakes from the handlebars or need to switch gears, then you may need to reconfigure it so that you can control your brake and gears from one side. Again, depending on your prosthesis, you might need a specific one to ensure your experience is successful. Your Prosthetist can help you decide what is best for you.
Once you have found a system that works best for you it is still important to remember the basic rules of cycling to keep you and everyone around you safe. Be mindful of the hazards that lie ahead and watch out for other cyclists and motor vehicles.
Be patient with yourself. Learning to ride a bike as an amputee can take a bit of time and require adjustments to your bike and or prosthesis. Don’t give up and continue to practice. If you are able to find a riding partner who can go out with you that might help to keep you motivated to keep trying and eventually you will come to love the physical activity, whether you were a biker before your amputation or not.
Don’t forget, your Prosthetist is always there to help. They will be able to give you the best advice on how to succeed in using cycling as a great mental and physical activity.