A group of people with transfemoral amputations run along a waterfront in a large city with Heinrich Popow.
Commitment to sports

Running Clinics

Taking those first steps with a sport prosthesis, aiming to run a new personal best or simply racing with the kids again – everyone has their own reasons for participating in an Ottobock Running Clinic.

Running with Ottobock

Exercising and engaging in a sport benefits our bodies and our minds. Exercising your cardiovascular system, maintaining personal mobility, unwinding, feeling your body move and overcoming challenges – these are all good reasons for people with and without disabilities to participate in sports.

We at Ottobock want to give people with limited mobility the opportunity to experience our passion for sports. That’s why we initiated the Running Clinics in cooperation with Heinrich Popow, who won gold at the Paralympic Games in London 2012 and Rio 2016. At the clinics, transfemoral amputees ranging from beginners to experienced runners work together to achieve their personal goals. They come together for a weekend to train, practise and try out sport prostheses under expert supervision.

Running Clinic coach Heinrich Popow uses a towel to demonstrate warm-up exercises to participants.
Heinrich Popow assisting the participants during a warm-up.
A conversation with Heinrich Popow

Sports are important for the well-being of our society. But do you think sports are even more important for people with amputations?

Of course they are, because they let you move freely again! You have to be in good shape to get the most out of your prosthesis. Studies show that a person with a transfemoral amputation has to exert up to seven times more energy than a non-amputee to make the same movements. So if you have a friend with an amputation and you say to him, “Come on, let’s go on an hour-long walk!”, that’s like a seven-hour walk for him.

Sports and fitness determine your quality of life. People with an amputation have to achieve a higher level of fitness than people without disabilities. But we shouldn’t forget the positive effect that training has on our mental well-being as well.

Running Clinics with Heinrich Popow

Quality of life and independence

Heinrich Popow has been inspiring transfemoral amputees from around the world since 2013. In the Running Clinic sports camps, he shows them how to run with a sports prosthesis. He is convinced that people with disabilities should engage in sport regularly – not despite their disabilities, but because of them.

“Sports have given me an incredible amount to be grateful for. I see it as my duty to share my experience with as many people as possible. It’s not about turning amputees into top-flight athletes, but about showing them how much sports can improve their quality of life. Not about engaging in sports despite the prosthesis – but because of it.”

Heinrich Popow, Running Clinic Coach

Athletic and active in everyday life

Several people with sport prostheses doing exercises on mats on a sports field.

Getting started

A certain level of fitness is required in order to engage in sports. For this reason, beginners in particular should proceed with care. Rest periods are just as important as training – because the body needs time to adjust to the new challenges. Tackling these challenges with patience takes determination and discipline. But if you want a lasting and healthy relationship with sports, it’s worthwhile to avoid the extremes of either overdoing it or not making enough of an effort.
A woman wearing a sport prosthesis kicking the ball on a football pitch.

Finding the appropriate sport

Nowadays, even prosthesis users and wheelchair users can engage in a wide range of either team or individual sports. Most parasports show strong parallels to their conventional counterparts. People with disabilities can participate in many types of sports in the same manner and with the same rules. A key question is, what appeals to me? What am I confident I can do? What will be fun and keep me coming back over the long term?
Heinrich Popow running on a sports field next to a woman with a sport prosthesis.

Staying motivated

Sooner or later, every athlete has days where training is more of a burden than a delight. But those who persevere and continue training anyway will find they regain their original level of motivation much faster. Being determined is important, and so is keeping your sights set on a goal.

Sport that moves you

But the Running Clinics aren’t just about athletic achievements. First and foremost, they are about people. Heinrich Popow helps the participants gain new confidence in themselves during training. He shows them that they are special and unique and that acceptance starts with themselves.

Woman smiling as she hugs Heinrich Popow, coach for the Running Clinics.
Sports connect people.
A conversation with Heinrich Popow

You work closely with children and young people at the Ottobock Running Clinics. Does their attitude change as well?

Absolutely. In the past, children all over the world typically covered or concealed their prostheses. But when they try out their prosthesis at our Running Clinic, functionality comes before aesthetics.

I once met a girl from Japan whose prosthesis was completely covered by a cosmesis. We were barely able to cut through the cover to get to the technology and make changes. When she participated in the Running Clinic five years later, she had made the futuristic design of her prosthesis her own and was wearing skirts and shorts. I’m absolutely convinced that sports always have and always will be able to change the way people think.

Trying out technology and discovering strengths

O&P professionals, who also provide the technical service at the Paralympic Games, equip the participants with sports prostheses for the camp at no charge and support them with their technical expertise. They adjust the prostheses and help the participants use them on-site.

Running Clinic dates

Dates for the 2020 Running Clinics will be available here soon.