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Thread: Resistance (+/- aerobic) training for paraplegics, any resources?

  1. #1

    Resistance (+/- aerobic) training for paraplegics, any resources?

    Basically I'm looking for any advice, preferably from some source with a bit of expertise (like with research behind it, or recommended by some organization with a lot of experience with paraplegics), on strength training especially, but also any feasible aerobic exercises specifically for paraplegics.

    I'm T8ish complete

    So I have little excuse other than that I am an extremely lazy human being... I'm really not even all that busy, though I like to use this as reason to not exercise.

    I have literally done nothing for exercise (aerobic or strength) for at least the last six months, until I was feeling particularly weak last night and went down to the gym at my apartment building and did some dumbell exercises for about 8 minutes. As my post injury experience has pretty much always been, I found it rather difficult.

    For example:
    1. I don't have the core strength to lift two dumbbells, one in each hand, reliably without risking toppling over.
    2. When doing curls from the wheelchair I have to twist my arm at odd angles to avoid the wheels or not go past 90 degrees of extension
    3. There's an adjustable bench, and I'd love to do an inclined bench press, but I probably couldn't balance myself on that bench without falling off, much less try to do so with a weight in each hand, and forget leaning down or to the side to grab the weights.
    4. There's no reasonable way for me to do pullups, at least with the equipment I have access to. I used to have a chin up bar in my apartment, but there's no place to mount it where I'm living now, and the gym has nothing that I can figure out how to use.

    I figure I can do some kind of resistance training, but I'm also not sure how my compromised technique (because of the wheelchair) might end up causing me injuries down the road. I'm 35 and my body is starting to let me know how busted and broken down it is getting... I had some weird shoulder popping/pain last year that I needed some PT for example.

    With regard to aerobic exercise, I'd love to do some, but I also just don't think it's very feasible. I used to ride a handcycle, but it was a huge pain to transport and assemble and I don't have the square footage in my 500 sf apartment to leave it out and on the trainer all the time. And now my limited hip mobility (heterotopic ossification in my right hip) means I can't turn to the handcycle to the right, so it's not really feasible to actually take out on the street. I figure pushing a chair isn't a very feasible way to get my heart rate up. I used to swim, and that might be an option at some point, but it takes sooooo looooong to drive to a pool, change, get in the water, swim, get out of the water, shower, change, and get back to where I'm going that it doesn't feel worth the effort (probably takes me 2.5 hours to get a 20 minute swim in).

    So surely I'm not the only one to run into these problems, why reinvent the wheel, right? Surely there must be someone out there who has specific expert recommendations on how to exercise with "proper" technique as a full-time-sitter, right? I just don't know where to look... But maybe what I'm really wishing for is a free personal trainer who also happens to be a physical therapist with a specialization in SCI... is that really too much to ask for?

  2. #2
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    Use an incline bench as a single-arm preacher curl bench. I back my front castor around the T of the base close to me so I can get up close with the inclined bench.
    Then I get someone to hand me dumbbells and I do one-arm, dumbbell preacher curls.
    T3 complete since Sept 2015.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Mize View Post
    Use an incline bench as a single-arm preacher curl bench. I back my front castor around the T of the base close to me so I can get up close with the inclined bench.
    Then I get someone to hand me dumbbells and I do one-arm, dumbbell preacher curls.
    That's a good thought. I'll have to see if that's feasible at my apartment gym with their incline bench and my wheelchair. If it works, I imagine I can get the dumbbell up there on my own. I'll have to since there's not usually anyone there to hand me some weights.

  4. #4
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    In that case pre position the dumbbell on the incline but on a towel as you'll scrape things a bit. This works up to a certain weight before it becomes too clumsy.
    T3 complete since Sept 2015.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mize View Post
    In that case pre position the dumbbell on the incline but on a towel as you'll scrape things a bit. This works up to a certain weight before it becomes too clumsy.
    Lol, I don't think I'll have to worry about that for a while, 25 pounds is about as much as I can curl with one arm for 8-10 reps... pretty pitiful.

  6. #6
    Hey Funklab, I feel like I can relate to you on this. I?m a T12 but my core is week.I started a new program 5 weeks ago from this book on Amazon: Zero Assistance Resistance Training by Dan Highcock. You need free weights, bands and a cable machine to do it and it?s all from your chair and it shows step by step proper form. I?m only on wk 5 but so far most exercises are done with 1 arm using the other arm to stabilized in your wheel. It?s really helping me with arms and core.

  7. #7
    Just wanted to mention a desktop peddler for some aerobic exercise. Saw some recommendations for wheelers (or anyone really) on the internet saying to start with very limited number of minutes peddling, then gradually increasing to your tolerance or goals. It's not about getting yourself exhausted, but gradually building your aerobic endurance.
    Drive Medical has a cheapie (Amazon) with a small screen that tells speed, distance, revolutions, elapsed time. Then there are more expensive units. If you don't have a table, put one end of it on a couch seat, a pillow on your lap, with the pedal part sitting on the pillow. That position works for me.
    Some of the expensive units you can just wheel up to, as they are on a stand that's accessible for a wheelchair. Just heard of one that's approved by the V.A. for SCI person.
    Suggest you be very careful about what your shoulders are doing while using free weights. Online is a flyer from Craig Rehabilitation titled Shoulder Protection - Do's and Don'ts. It pictures what specific ranges of the shoulder will cause trouble, and what form would be better.
    (I'm a former road racer for 12 years, now doing shoulder-specific exercises as an oldster with chronic shoulder pain. I'm not blaming the road racing, but the ridiculous transfers I used to do)
    Best to you with the exercise program.

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