Summit Pedorthics: Activity, Exercise, and Limited Mobility

Summit Pedorthics: Activity, Exercise, and Limited Mobility


Many people who are limited in their ability, mobility, or bound to wheelchairs often struggle with finding a workout plan that is enough, but gentle enough not to upset the body. Some would believe that exercise is impossible once they are wheelchair bound. This is just not the case, and this sort of outlook only perpetuates poor health and exercise behavior. Movement is key to staying mobile in this life, and keep those joints limber and pain-free is always at the top of the list.

What types of exercise can I do with limited mobility or within the confines of my wheelchair? There are a few, but first, you must take into consideration of your own strengths and weaknesses. Certain loss of mobility can hinder specific types of exercise, and you never want to do something that could cause more harm than good. If you’re unsure, check with your doctor, Pedorthist, or therapist before you begin any regimen. For the most part, there are three types of exercise you should focus on.

Strength training routines use weights or other types of low-resistance pulls to build muscle and bone mass, improve your balance, and help keep you steady; preventing you from falls. If you have limited mobility in your legs, you should focus on upper body strength training. If you have a shoulder injury, or shoulders that do not like to rotate, focus more on leg strength training. Starting off, you should limit your repetitions and start basic, slow, and low.

Cardiovascular exercise is important for raising your heart rate, which in turn helps you build your endurance. The “best” exercises for those with little mobility are often in water. Water aerobics, swimming, and aqua jogging are popular to name a few. The body is put as ease in water, as the buoyancy helps keep the person floating with little effort. This also reduces the pressure on sore, painful joints. If you are not wheelchair confined, walking, running, biking, gentle dancing, or even tennis can be extremely beneficial to keep your cardio health up to par.

Flexibility training and exercise helps maintain and broaden your range of motion. Being flexible and able to move your joints freely also prevents injury, reduces aches and pains, and decreases overall body stiffness. Yoga and stretching are very easy, common exercise additions to increase flexibility. With or without limited mobility, in or out of a wheelchair, flexing and stretching is easy to do, and add in to any part of the day!

If you’re still not sure, your doctor can help you determine a routine and plan. Here are some questions that you should ask.
– How much exercise can I do each week?
– -Can I exercise daily?
– What exercises and activities should I avoid?
– Should I avoid certain medications around my exercising time?
Finally, here are ten important things to remember when starting a new workout plan, new activity, or when you begin to push your body in ways you have not for a while.

#1- Start slowly, and gradually increase your activity level, and energy output levels. Start with a basic activity or task you enjoy, and in your own time at your own pace, begin as you are most comfortable. Setting small fitness and activities goals is key!

#2- Make exercise and activity part of your daily routine. Try to exercise at the same time of day each day, whenever that may be.

#3- Remember, you won’t see instant results; although for some, they may be more swift. For most people, it can take about 31 days for any new activity or thing to become a habit, or part of the daily grind. Focusing on reachable short-term goals will keep the prize in sight, and keep you motivated. If you find things you like to do, you will be more likely to do them regularly. However, if you hate cleaning up the dog poo; you shouldn’t make it into one of your daily chores. If you don’t like the task, you won’t like it for exercise, or an activity, either!

#4- Always be safe, stay safe, and exercise and stretch in safe areas. Do not try any “new” “moves” just because you saw Mr. Johnson from down the block trying it as he walked by. What is good for him might not be the best for you!

#5- If you have pain, discomfort, dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, irregular or thumping heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea or clammy hands—STOP immediately. Move to sit, or relax in a cool area, and call for help, if you need it. If after fifteen minutes these issues do not stop after exercise has ceased, contact your doctor and be honest about your activities so you can find a solution and avoid problems in the future.

#6- Drink lots of water! Your body is mostly water, and needs to stay hydrated at all times; especially when exercising and exerting the body’s energy.

#7- Wear appropriate clothing, and supportive footwear; if you’re up and out of a wheelchair. Comfortable clothes allow your body to breathe, and do not restrict your movement.

#8- Don’t expect perfection. Feeling discouraged in the beginning is normal, and you may need to take days off sporadically to allow your body to rest and heal. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! It knows best.

#9- Avoid activity on any injured part of the body. If your shoulders are hurting, do NOT do 30 sets of repetitive arm rotations! Just swap your workout to legs, and let your sore arms and shoulders rest. Same can be said for your sore legs; rest them, and work out those arms! If you are working through small amounts of muscle discomfort, make sure you’re using lower weights and tension pulls, if any at all, while your sore spots calm and heal.

#10- Don’t forget your warm ups! Stretches! And cool downs! Just a few minutes of active stretching before you begin could save you some extra-sore muscles later on. After your exercise, whether you focus on cardio, strength building, or flexibility, cooling down with a few minutes of walking or slow stretching will do the body good!

Most importantly, just keep that body moving! Thanks for stopping by! Make sure to visit our Facebook page, and give us a LIKE!