The human body goes through a fair number of changes when spending time in space. Besides, it is an entirely different environment, after all. And without gravity and without the need to walk for an extended period of time, it naturally leads to the question of how astronauts fair when they return home. Can they walk? Do they need to relearn how to do so? Well, here is all you want to know.
So, can astronauts walk after returning from space? Astronauts cannot walk when they return from space – at least initially and until they redevelop the strength lost due to the weightlessness they experience without gravity. In time, however, astronauts will get back on their feet.
Astronauts may go through rigorous training down on Earth, but there are a few unavoidable effects that space causes on the human body.
This is due to the drastic change in the environment they experience while on missions – which last for around six months (on average).
Muscles are significantly weakened as they’re not needed to help support the body, but there are changes to balance, too.
The ability to walk is naturally lost, as we shall continue to explore in the next few sections!
Can You Walk When You Get Back From Space?
You cannot walk when you get back from space – at least initially. Upon return from space, you are reintroduced to elements you wouldn’t have experienced during the time you were out of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The biggest factor is gravity, as it can feel like a substantial weight on the body when you’ve gotten used to the weightlessness of space for so long.
That’s why every time you see footage of astronauts returning to Earth, they’re quickly placed in wheelchairs as they simply don’t have the physical strength to move.
Many astronauts have spoken about the odd feeling, but many reports state that most astronauts adapt to the atmosphere in about three to four days.
Research has shown that traveling to space generally comes with a handful of side effects with varying causes.
Along with the effects of weightlessness, astronauts have reported balance disorders, cardiovascular issues, changes in the immune system, and more.
The longer you spend time in space can exacerbate the effects on the body.
Do Astronauts Have To Relearn To Walk?
Many astronauts have to relearn to walk after returning to Earth, as the body hasn’t used many of its normal functions for months.
It doesn’t take long for these effects to take place either, as there’s a recent popular report from 2018 that told the story of astronaut Drew Feustel and how he had to relearn how to walk after spending 200 days in space.
It goes to show the challenges that astronauts face are vast, and they take on plenty of risks to do their job outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
Relearning how to walk isn’t as easy as it sounds, as there’s video footage to prove what physical therapy looks like for astronauts who have returned home.
It’s pretty astounding to watch, and it’s evident that a lot more research needs to be done to learn how to survive the unforgiving nature of space.
Nevertheless, astronauts receive the proper care they need as soon as they arrive home, and each goes through a similar recovery process depending on their status after arrival.
How Do Astronauts Relearn To Walk?
This process is fairly standard for anyone who needs to relearn how to walk. Soon after astronauts arrive back on Earth, they’re quickly sent through a physical therapy program that gets them back on track in a short amount of time.
Of course, considering who they work for, astronauts get all of the professional care they need to efficiently get their bodies back in working order under the pressure of Earth’s gravity.
Physical therapy consists of many different methods that work on different areas of the body, many of which include mobility and strength exercises.
This is only one aspect of their recovery, as some astronauts have reported other symptoms such as nausea while working through physical therapy.
Even with an astronaut’s consistent workout schedule, a level of muscle atrophy is bound to happen over time.
The effects of Earth’s gravity are so severe for astronauts that they’ve reported being able to feel the weight of their tongue, lips, and nearly every other part of the body.
This feeling alone can be exhausting and make mobility feel near impossible for astronauts.
How Long Does It Take For Astronauts To Walk Again?
For astronauts to get their mobility back to basics, public data shows it takes most astronauts only three to four days to get back on their feet. Once again, this isn’t the only change they’re feeling after re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, and it’s common for it to take forty-five to a few months, or possibly up to a year, to feel 100% normal.
Although the effects of outer space have an impact on each astronaut, it’s known to affect people in different ways.
This is due to various factors such as body size, health habits, and much more.
Nevertheless, every astronaut reports many of the same feelings and sensations upon returning home, which has led to a lot of new research now that we’re a few decades into space travel.
Physical therapy can be somewhat rigorous, especially if an astronaut has a lot to work on regarding their personal condition.
No matter how long it takes, astronauts are determined to get back to normal and back to the job.
They’re also highly trained in simulated environments that help prepare them for the effects of outer space.
Along with physical therapy, outer space can also have an effect on the human brain and an astronaut’s mental condition.
Upon returning to Earth, each astronaut’s mental status is checked to ensure everything is working as it should.
With new advancements in technology and evolving research on the effects of outer space, we may be on our way to more effective methods of physical therapy.
Moreover, we can look toward a future that allows us to withstand the harshness of space with the help of technology.
For now, there’s a long to-do list that astronauts have to go through when returning to Earth, but with enough time, they’re usually back to feeling like their usual selves.
Astronauts’ bodies go through quite a lot when working for extended periods in outer space.
Each of them makes a number of sacrifices that take a toll on their body for the job at hand, but there are plenty of resources on the ISS and back on Earth to aid their recovery.
Nevertheless, these effects on the human body can’t be taken lightly, which is why each astronaut takes good care of their body on a daily basis while living and working in space.
As we can see with walking, an astronaut goes through a lot. Not just in space but when returning from a space mission too. It just goes to show how dedicated each of them is to their profession.
Want to learn more about astronauts? Then my other guides may be of interest:
- Why Does An Astronaut Weigh Less On The Moon?
- What Happens If An Astronaut Floats Off In Space?
- What Do Astronauts Do When Not In Space?
Hey, my name is Chris. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.