Using a wheelchair takes strength and dexterity. Unfortunately, you can pay a price in terms of discomfort and even injury. Arms and shoulders are especially vulnerable.
Proper technique, the right equipment and exercises can all help to mitigate pain. Here’s an easy wheelchair user’s guide to help you minimize arm and shoulder problems.
The wrong posture, wheelchair angle or pushing motion can put undue strain on muscles, connective tissues and joints.
- Keep arms moving in a circular motion, rather than back and forth. Your hands should make a small circular motion within the larger circle created by the rim.
- Keep tires inflated properly to minimize resistance.
- If you’re sitting too high or too low, you’re working too hard. When you lean back with your arms relaxed, fingertips should extend just a bit past the axle.
- Keep weight to a minimum. If you can purchase a lighter-weight chair, you’ll save yourself work.
Keeping your upper body in shape can help you prevent undue strain and injury. Did you notice the flexibility in the shoulders of the Olympic swimmers? The more you stretch and strengthen the connective tissues and shoulder muscles, the less they will trouble you. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist to learn exercises that will help you build and maintain shoulder strength. The days in Phoenix are getting a bit cooler, but don’t give up on your favorite outdoor activities. They help to keep you in shape.
If you’re older or are just tired of the constant discomfort of a manual wheelchair, it might be time to purchase a power wheelchair.
Have a question about something in our wheelchair user’s guide? Contact us, and we’ll be happy to address any questions or concerns. At Power Mobility, we pride ourselves on the service we offer to clients throughout Arizona. We’re happy to help you with your mobility needs.
Image via Shutterstock.com