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A Primer on Amputee Hiking

Posted by Bryan Potok on

If you’re looking for activities that can help you stay active, consider hiking. It is an activity that will work your strength and cardio. With hiking season already in full swing, some might be considering a hike on the nearest trail or perhaps just in your neighborhood. Here are some things you need to know.

 Everything you need to know about amputee hiking.

Why amputee hiking  

With the evolution of prosthetic foot technology, many prosthetic users are fully benefiting from improved materials to design. And one of the best ways to get a well-rounded workout is through hiking—which doesn’t require specialized equipment nor lessons. However, it does require careful preparation, which we will discuss at length below.

You don’t consider yourself to be athletic? You can still enjoy going on a hike. It’s an excellent whole-body workout, and it helps you build confidence. 


You can better enjoy your hike when you take some time to prepare well. Below are some crucial steps you need to consider before going hiking.

Check with your prosthetist and doctor  

Before you set out to do any physical activity, check with your prosthetist and doctor first. It doesn’t matter if you plan to go on a two- or five-mile hike. You need to ensure that your prosthesis and your health are both ready.

Keep in mind that not all prostheses are made for uneven and unpaved ground. If you’re used to walking on city sidewalks, walking on an uneven trail with your prosthetic leg will be challenging. To ensure your safety, your prosthetist might need to make some adjustments to your prosthesis before you go hiking.  

Ease into it  

Begin with shorter walks close to home, then work up to covering longer distances. These brief walks are necessary to prepare your residual limb and reduce its susceptibility to chafes, rashes, and volume changes, among other possible skin and limb irritations.

While these are generally accepted as common side effects of hiking, helping your residual limb ease into a longer hike ensures that you will not suffer halfway through the trail.  

Hiking gear  

Choose the best running or trail shoes. Most hikers wear lightweight running or trail shoes. Others prefer ankle lace-ups, which, despite being clunky and heavy, does a great job of protecting your tired ankle.

A hiking pole is another must-have item among hikers. They help you keep your balance and shift the burden off your knee and residual limb.

Pack prosthetic essentials  

Depending on how long your hike is, you might want to bring your amputee survival kit with you. But, at the bare minimum, make sure to bring at least one extra set of clean prosthetic socks and your favorite skin care products.

There’s nothing wrong with preparing for the worst. We also recommend keeping a pair of crutches (or a wheelchair, if you can) in your car in case your prosthesis fails.

Safety on the trails  

Although hiking and communing with nature sounds like a good idea right now, we urge you to exercise extreme precautions. Plan your trip well in advance, stick to day trips, and avoid crowded trails.

If national parks and other trails seem too busy, you can still go on “urban hikes” in forgotten parks or streets in your area. This way, you’ll get some exercise while getting to know your neighborhood better.
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<a href="">A Primer on Amputee Hiking</a>

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  • I have a BKA and enjoy hiking. My thoughts:
    - I agree that a walking stick, or a set of two, is very helpful on uneven ground. Buy a decent one that has a wrist strap and adjustable length. This minimizes fatigue and allows you to adjust for uphill or downhill stretches.
    —Walking on grades and uneven ground takes more work with a prosthetic limb compared with normal legs, but I love hiking. It takes me a bit longer but I can still do most of what I want to do.
    --I find that low rise hiking shoes are the best combination of weight and stability. Soft soles do not do well on rocky ground. I like flat soles without heels.
    —A fanny pack or trim backpack works well for day trips. For backpacking spend the money for good equipment.
    --Beware of wet ground especially going down hill due to your limited ankle mobility . Look for roots, rocks, and ledges to get a better foot grip.
    —Plan on time to periodically remove your prosthesis, check your limb and dry off sweat.
    --Anti-antiperspirants are helpful.

    Rudolf Hehn on

  • I really enjoy tips that you write about as they usually answer many of the questions that I think about. As a fairly new AK amputee these tips show me that I can achieve activities.

    MIke on

  • Hi, does anyone know of a BK amp that has walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain? Its 500 miles. I hike once or twice every weekend in the mountains but I had never done 8 hours a day of walking, day after day. I’m wondering how well my stump may hold up. I would like to connect with someone who has done the camino or something similar. I’m 63 and have been an amp for just over 40 years.

    Norm on

  • Can you recommend a foot/ankle that would make it easier to hike over rocky terrain.

    Linda Frew on

  • I am a double below knee How do get some new feet that will let me walk on slopes and hills an uneven terrain. Three months ago i got new sockets and am now pain free and can walk 11+ miles a day where I wasn’t getting 600-1000 on a good day/ They tell me that medicare will not approve new feet until my current feet are out of warranty in 1.5 yrs and 2 yrs

    Daniel Young on

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