A Beginner’s Guide to Amputee Running: Below-Knee Suspension
Our “Amputee Running Series” aims to provide you with a practical guide to help you begin running with your prosthesis. This fourth installment will focus on suspension—particularly for below-knee amputee runners. To read our previous articles on amputee running, visit Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Suspension: An essential prosthetic running component
During a run, you want your complete focus on your performance, so you would not want anything to hinder you from giving it your all. Another essential component of your prosthetic running system is the suspension. And the only way to ensure optimal performance is to select a secure suspension system that fits you well.
Regardless of your preferred technique, the ideal prosthetic suspension system needs to have the ability to accommodate size fluctuations, so you will need a highly adjustable system. Above all, it needs to be durable and comfortable, and it should not inhibit your knee’s range of motion.
Top two preferred BK prosthetic suspension methods for running
One of the most preferred suspension systems for BK amputee runners is a suction suspension with a prosthetic liner, one-way valve, and prosthetic sleeve. The ideal prosthetic liner should be made from silicone because it will not lengthen or stretch as much as gel liners while on your run. The firmness and stability offered by silicone liners will help contain your residual limb and better transfer your energy to the prosthesis.
Some prefer the simplicity offered by a lanyard-style suspension system. Lanyard suspensions are easy to use and simple in design compared to the pin-lock method of attaching the socket to the liner.
More often than not, your choice of suspension method depends on the height of your preferred prosthetic running foot. Some prosthetic running feet do not offer sufficient clearance for the locking mechanism of a pin-lock system.
An auxiliary or secondary suspension may be needed as excessive sweating will be an issue. It is best to have a spare prosthetic sleeve nearby. Prosthetic leg sleeves are available in different materials from silicone to gel to neoprene. Sleeves are also available in various thickness.
For a greater range of motion when bending your knee, we recommend the Össur Iceross Sleeve with Wave Feature. This running sleeve is made from silicone and features horizontal functioning waves along the knee, which prevents sleeve bunching when bending your knee.
Consult your prosthetist
If you have any questions about which suspension method to use for running, we highly suggest consulting with your prosthetist. You can also send us an email, and we’ll gladly help you find the information you need.
Lastly, always remember to double-check your suspension after you have finished your stretching and before you start your run. This is a great habit to ensure your safety so you can focus on having fun while on your run.If you’re a BK prosthetic runner, which suspension method do you prefer and why?