Our 2021 Move for Mobility is a fully inclusive event that everyone can get involved in—including individuals using wheelchairs!
Check out these exercises that can be done while using a wheelchair.
Special thanks to Invacare Europe, who originally shared this article!
1. Move Those Shoulders!
We use our shoulders a lot, so it’s important that we keep them strong and supple.
For this chair exercise, sit up straight in your wheelchair with your arms straight out in front of you. Keep your palms down, with your fingers holding imaginary handlebars.
Ready? Push those arms out as far as you can without locking your joints, then bend your elbows up towards you.
Now pull your arms back until your elbows are behind your body. Squeeze those shoulder blades together and feel the pull!
Repeat 10 times.
2. Balloon Squeeze
Sit up straight in your chair and hold a medicine ball, basketball, or balloon up to your chest. The more you squeeze the ball, the harder you will be working your chest muscles.
Push the ball out in front of you until your elbows are nearly straight, and continue to squeeze the ball and work the chest muscle.
Pull the ball (or balloon) back towards your chest and repeat 10 times. Remember to focus and do this exercise slowly to really make the muscle work.
3. Zombie Twist
This chair exercise is perfect for Halloween—you’ll end up looking a bit like a zombie!
Sit up straight in your chair and put your arms out in front of you (like a zombie) while making sure that your elbows stay at your side.
Now focus those core muscles in your trunk and turn slowly to the right, as far as you can go without hurting yourself, hold the pose, and turn back until your body is centered. Then, do the same for the left side turn.
Repeat 10 times for each side, and ‘suck’ your tummy muscles in, if you can, for an extra muscle workout.
4. Jazz Toes
This exercise is perfect for those of us who enjoy listening to music while sitting in our chair and tapping our toes!
Again, sit up straight in your chair or wheelchair and place your feet flat on the ground or on your footplate.
Simply move your toes up towards the ceiling, then point them towards the floor. You should feel a pull at the back of your foot.
Repeat 10 times.
You can do this exercise with both feet at the same time, or work alternately with them, if you prefer. Get toe-tapping!
5. Higher Knee Exercise
As always, sit up straight in your chair or wheelchair and engage those core muscles in your torso.
Put your feet flat on the ground or flat on your footplate. Slowly lift one of your legs as far as you can comfortably manage and bend your knee back towards you.
Hold that pose for 5 seconds (if you can) before lowering your foot down and starting the exercise again with the other leg.
Repeat this exercise 10 times with each leg – you’ll feel like you’re marching!
Check out the original Invacare article here.
Looking for something less intense?
Check out these simple stretches!
1. Overhead Reaches
Reach up overhead as high as you can.
Pull your elbows down as the shoulder blades come together and the arms come out to the side. There should be a stretch in front of the chest.
Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 10 times.
2. Hip Rotation and Adductor Stretch
Sitting down, pull one leg up.
Cross the ankle over the opposite knee.
Hold this for 20-30 seconds and repeat five times on both sides.