Working Out in a Wheelchair

Having a major injury is already a vulnerable thing to experience. Knowing I was going to be confined to a wheelchair for at least 8 weeks opened up some parts of me that I locked away a long, long time ago.

Now imagine you are in this vulnerable headspace and your body just betrays you. To even sit upright is a struggle. Feeling strong was something I didn’t feel for the first few weeks after I was released from the hospital. Also, you never really realize just how much you don’t work out certain parts of your body until you have to push yourself around for two months.

I was humbled for sure when it came to trying to learn skills I would need while in the chair. I even got stuck on my couch once because I couldn’t pull myself up high enough from the soft cushions to get back into my chair. I had to wait until my dad got back home so he could give me the leverage I needed to pull myself up. Definitely not my most graceful moment.

That was when I realized I needed to take the strength training I learned in in-patient treatment seriously. I used what all the physical therapists had showed me combined with what I knew to be comfortable for my own body. I then came up with a regimen that worked for me that I could do with ease from my chair.

The first and most important asset was core strength. If you don’t have core strength, any time you rock forward in your chair it feels like you might fall out. I utilized tying resistance bands to just about anything so that I could engage core while having active movement.
Reaching is an extension of this too. I couldn’t tell you how many things I gave up on in the beginning because I was unwilling to put myself off balance.

But putting one’s self into uncomfortable situations or feeling unbalanced are our greatest opportunities for personal growth.

Once you no longer feel like you’re going to be like the lady in the LifeAlert commercials who says” I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” it’s time to work your arms because pushing yourself in a wheelchair is not as easy as it looks. Your arms ache all the time. Working the chest and shoulders with weights like dumbbells is a godsend.

I was able to pick up how to do a wheelchair wheelie pretty quickly also that’s just a bonus.
Traditional gyms aren’t necessarily user friendly when it comes to inclusive machines and assistive devices to help those with mobility issues. However that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, you just need help. Having a gym buddy is crucial, they can make sure to reach things for you that is out of the realm of possibility and they just keep an eye on you in general.
Anything could happen at any time so its best to safe than sorry.
Alternative exercises for mobility issues could also be death with at home. If you have a friend who can carry you then you’ve just solved the hard part about utilizing hydrotherapy. I had a doctor say to me once that strengthening your body in the water is the best thing for you because it’s not as heavy on the joints, and if you fall in the water it is just called swimming.

I may have laughed a little too hard at that joke but sue me !! I am a sucker for an dumb joke.
All in all, I guess what I am trying to say is just because your situation changes you shouldn’t let it color your ability to still accomplish the goal. Adapt. Evolve. Succeed. In that order.

Until Next time readers…

- Bianca A


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