We've all seen them--- the people at the gym with sweat pouring off of their bodies. As they
bounce from one machine to the next, they leave a pool of sweat in their wake. Maybe you're even one of "those types" yourself. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing to be ashamed of; it's not like people can help it. But, no one likes the feel of your clothes being drenched or the burning sensation that you feel when beads of sweat drip into your eyes. Sweating makes some people self conscious while it leaves others feeling like they got a good workout. Either way, everyone's degree of sweat differs.
I'm actually an anti-sweater. Instead, my face gets beat red from exertion, which I know is equally as unattractive. No matter how intense my workout is, I don't seem to sweat... with one exception-- my leg! When it comes to that, I'm a sweating master! Ugh, what a desirable superpower, huh? My silicone liner that I have to wear to keep my prosthesis attached acts as an amazing insulator... in all the worst ways. In cold weather, the second my stump gets cold, all the liner does it keep it cold. It's like an ice pack in a lunchbox. The only way I can warm it up is to remove my prosthesis. When I'm hot, it does just the opposite; it traps in all the heat!
The heat entrapment comes into play when exercising. By the end of my workout, my pants are soaked at the back of my knee joint. When I sit on a mat and bend my leg to stretch, a pool of sweat embarrassingly dumps onto it. I've learned to carry a towel to sop it up before anyone can see. However, there are more egregious issues than my self-confidence being obliterated.
There is an actual physical complication that sweating exacerbates. The entire bottom part of my liner fills with sweat as I workout and slides down my leg. Because it doesn't fit as snugly as when it's dry, it creates a lot of friction. Sores start to form and cause quite a bit of pain. The first 15 minutes of my cardio workout is always the best, but by the end, I am stopping because of the pain instead of from being out of breath or muscle fatigue.
At the conclusion of my workout, I go into the locker room and remove my prosthesis in order to dry it off. If I don't, the friction continues until I take it off before I go to sleep at night, which makes for a painful rest of the evening. As you can see in the picture, my liner is thin enough that the sweat actually penetrates through it and shows on the outside. You don't want me to go into detail about how that makes the liner smell! There is a pool of sweat on the gym floor (don't worry- I cleaned it up) that forms even before I take off the liner. Trust me, the pool of sweat gets even bigger when the liner is removed!
Combating the sweat issue has taken some time to figure out, and I still don't have it down to a science by any means. However, I have found that if I rotate what types of workouts I do in a week, then the pain is significantly alleviated. For example, Mondays I ride the stationary bike and run on the treadmill. Tuesdays I do the step machine and rowing machine. I almost always save Wednesdays and Sundays for my swimming days because I can swim with my prosthesis off and rest my stump. Thursdays and Saturdays are my rest days. Lastly, Fridays I normally do the elliptical machine. The variation ensures that I am not using my stump in the exact same way each day, which cuts down on the development of "hot spots."
If any amputees are reading this, I would love some insight on how you combat this issue. Leave me a comment below!! I thought about using Certain Dri, but I know that's pretty hard on your skin, and my stump is sensitive to say the least! Until new products are made or I find other ways to deal with the excessive sweat, I'll continue what I'm doing and get through it knowing that exercise is so good for me, and it's important to strengthen my stump so that it doesn't atrophy any more than it already has. In the meantime, I'm going to try to be more accepting of this superpower that I've been blessed with instead of allowing it to make me insecure.