By Jewel Connelly, Communications Specialist
How Core Strength Offers a Greater Quality of Life for Amputees
Helping clients change their lives as a personal trainer and lifestyle fitness coach, it wasn’t until Cindy Asch-Martin became a below-knee amputee that she would gain the experience to help her new community overcome its unique challenges. Unable to comfortably wear a socket and searching for a solution, Cindy boldly traveled from her home in Washington to Australia for osseointegration surgery in 2019, becoming an above-knee amputee in the process.
Eager to help as many amputees as possible, she decided to extend her reach by launching an educational YouTube Channel (@CindyAschMartinPersonalAffects), offering helpful tips, tricks, and a variety of workouts that can be done without equipment. As both ACE (American Council on Exercise) and NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified, Cindy is a passionate advocate for amputees, recently sharing her knowledge with community members during the Amputee Coalition’s 2022 National Conference. Understanding just how important core strength is, especially for an amputee’s daily life, her training methodology centers around balance for increased mobility.
As Cindy has adjusted to life as a unilateral amputee for over 11 years, her resilient attitude has enabled her to continue training others as they experience their own journey post amputation. Aside from serving those within the limb loss and limb difference community, she has honed her training expertise for over 25 years in areas including special populations, older adults, and people with arthritis.
After building her physical stamina with strength training, Cindy is now able to work out for long periods without tiring. She attributes her recovery primarily to core and stability training methods.
“Having good core strength is key to stability, maintaining balance, and regaining your balance without falling to the ground,” she said. “Your core is crucial when you don’t have both ankles to help stabilize you.”
Following an upper- or lower-extremity amputation, amputees will feel off balance because their weight is no longer evenly distributed on either side due to a missing limb or the extra weight of a prosthesis.
Developing balance is a huge factor in helping to prevent falls and injury that plague newer amputees still adjusting to the change. With this in mind, Cindy demonstrates beginner through advanced-level stability exercises with and without a prosthesis on her channel, including standing on one leg while holding onto a chair, planks, and balancing on a Bosu or Resist-A-Ball.
For balancing on one leg, she instructs amputees to hold their residual limb in different positions as the sound leg works to stabilize the body.
“I recommend doing a variety of stability exercises to challenge your body because this is more helpful than repeating the same exercises over and over,” she said.
With a doctor’s approval, Cindy emphasized that amputees will benefit from working on their core as soon as possible. “There are numerous exercises that can be done on the floor or in bed even before you get your prosthesis.”
Learning to approach her life as an amputee with a positive perspective, Cindy has an unwavering commitment to physical fitness that has allowed her to enjoy activities such as horseback riding and bowling that engage core muscles. “I wouldn’t recommend a new amputee doing a strenuous sport because they could fall if they don’t have good core balance yet, but activities such as riding horses, bowling, kayaking, and swimming are all great sports for amputees to strengthen their core.”
Above all else, maintaining the right mindset and resisting discouragement have been crucial to Cindy’s continuous progress and success in the face of obstacles.
“You have to wake up every morning and choose to think positive thoughts,” she said. “If negative thoughts come into your mind, you have to find activities and implement practices to make yourself happy and focus on the positive.”
Inspiring those around her, Cindy proves that a high quality of life is more than possible following amputation and core strength opens the door to greater independence.
If you are interested in viewing Cindy’s workout video library, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel, @CindyAschMartinPersonalAffects, and follow her on Facebook (@PersonalAffects) or Instagram (@amputee_personal_trainer).