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Thread: Pushing the wheelchair for exercise?

  1. #1

    Pushing the wheelchair for exercise?

    So I'm almost 12 years post at this point, and I've pretty much always been of the opinion that pushing a wheelchair isn't good exercise. The muscles fatigue long before you get out of breath (at least for me), and I figure it's putting unnecessary wear and tear on my shoulders.

    However for the last week or so I've been trying to push at least 3 miles every evening when I get home from work in addition to what little distance I put on my chair at work. I'm traveling in a few weeks and I don't want to get to a new city where I'll need to push around a lot and fatigue, but even more than that I want to build up the callouses I need on my hands, because that's what will really stop me. I'm going with an AB, so I won't be able to go nearly as fast as I would solo, so I doubt I'll wear my muscles out.

    I'm just kinda worried if I make this a habit (plan on doing a lot of traveling in the somewhat near future), I'll end up doing permanent damage to my shoulders.

    Anybody feel like you screwed up your shoulders by pushing too much for recreational purposes or am I reading too much into this?

  2. #2
    I am C7, 9 years post and have a one mile neighborhood loop that I do routinely. It includes two challenging hills. In cooler weather I'll do it 2 to 4 times a day. In hot weather, I'll do once around morning and evening. I have damaged my shoulders a number of times over those 9 years, never pushing the wheelchair. It's always been transferring,, working in the gym, or doing some exercise under the direction of a PT. Just my one datapoint.

  3. #3
    You’re not reading too much into it. It’s a trade off. You need exercise. But keep it kind to the shoulders, like bands for rotator cuff muscles and pulleys for the back, chest, and larger shoulder muscles, and dead weights for arms to supplement the pushing.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2001
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    get a bike from, john its not that expensive save those sholder and its a hek of a lot of fun. I am c6c7 and I can not push like you all not happening 18years and 68old. but my bike is great exercise

  5. #5

    Good point!

    Quote Originally Posted by endo_aftermath View Post
    I am C7, 9 years post and have a one mile neighborhood loop that I do routinely. It includes two challenging hills. In cooler weather I'll do it 2 to 4 times a day. In hot weather, I'll do once around morning and evening. I have damaged my shoulders a number of times over those 9 years, never pushing the wheelchair. It's always been transferring,, working in the gym, or doing some exercise under the direction of a PT. Just my one datapoint.
    Every shoulder injury I sustained came from doing something else like: lifting weights, moving boxes of tiles, painting the basement floor and hosing down the basement. No injury from pushing my 'chair.

    Year 1988, in the winter I had ice on my ramp and I did a fast push on my hand rim with out noticing anything. Then later that night I had chest pains. I went to the ER and told the receptionist I was having chest pains and she said, "Code blue ER" over the PA. A nurse suddenly grabbed me and took me back. Transporters lifted me on the gurney. They ripped off my shirt and I had about six doctors all looking down at me asking me questions and putting EKG tabs on me. The chief cardiologist was even there! After about 45 minutes they concluded I pulled a chest muscle and gave me a prescription of flexeril. Which knocked me out! Heart was just fine.

    A short story of 'chair living.

    Ti
    "We must overcome difficulties rather than being overcome by difficulties."

  6. #6
    Cause and effect are not always as they seem. The perfect storm for a shoulder injury is overuse of the shoulder plus underdevelopment of the surrounding larger muscles, which aren't supporting the shoulder properly. The actual event in which the shoulder finally fails can be just about anything - the last straw that broke the camel's back. The best we can do is stay strong. That includes not just the shoulders but also the surrounding muscles that support the shoulder.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Orlando, FL
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    711
    I don't think any of us could say pushing is the reason our shoulders are bad, but we also couldn't say it's not the reason.
    I'd say keep on pushing, and if it starts hurt, take a break.
    Rollin' since '89. Complete C8

  8. #8
    Research shows that shoulder damage can be caused by improper push stroke use in a manual wheelchair, as well as improper wheelchair set up. You can find a lot of information on this in this Clinical Practice Guideline:

    Preservation of Upper Limb Function Following Spinal Cord Injury


    (KLD
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  9. #9
    In the earlier days of my injury they weren't too concerned about shoulder health because the SCI population usually didn't live long enough to experience it. I don't see much difference between we very active athletes of yesteryear and those who were sedentary or less active. In fact I think those who were less active actually started having shoulders problems earlier than the athletes or very active SCI's.
    Last edited by Patrick Madsen; 09-25-2019 at 01:31 PM.

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