Being confined to a wheelchair for any reason can be challenging. No longer are common everyday tasks easy, and what was once a simple process may now seem daunting. It is important to keep your body as flexible and conditioned as possible in order to maintain and even increase blood circulation, to prevent muscles from tightening or failing, to relieve aches, to improve posture and even to improve breathing. Below are a few exercises that can be done in a wheelchair.
- Shrug your shoulders as high as able; hold in position for a few seconds and slowly relax as you lower them.
- Bring your shoulders up again in the same shrug motion as before. Once they are as high as possible without straining, roll them forward and continue downward and roll them backward. Relax
- Lower your shoulders. You should not be able to do this too far (probably only half an inch). Hold for a few seconds then relax and allow your shoulders to rise.
- Keep your legs close together, relaxed but not tight. Use your foot and footrest to push your knees in an upward position. Be sure to feel your calf muscles contract each time. Hold for a few seconds, and then relax.
- Another way to work out your calves and also your quads a little is to extend one leg at a time straight in front. Be sure to use your quads (thighs) to support your leg. You can also use your hand for extra support. Once your leg is fully extended (if able) point your toes forward. Hold for a few seconds, and then release. Switch to your other leg, and do the same.
- Sit straight in your chair with both legs down. Lean forward enough to place your hands under your thighs. Pull one leg at a time towards your chest. Hold for a few seconds then relax. Repeat with the opposite leg. You should feel a nice stretch in your lower back with this stretch.
- Sit straight in your chair with both legs down and extend both arms straight up. Keep both arms extended as high as possible in order to feel a slight stretch in your back. With arms still extended, lean to one side. Hold for a few seconds. Then lean to the opposite side. Hold for a few seconds, and then relax.
- Sit straight in your chair facing forward. Slowly and gently turn your head to one side, far enough to look over your shoulder and feel a good stretch. Hold for a few seconds then relax back to facing forward. Repeat the same motions on the opposite side.
- While sitting straight up in your chair and facing forward, tilt your head down until your chin touches the top of your clavicle bone (top of your chest). Hold for a few second and then relax back to start position. Repeat.
- Hold one arm behind your head. Be sure your elbow is pointing towards the ceiling. Use your other hand to gently pull your extended elbow towards your head. When you feel a stretch in your triceps (back of your arm), hold for a few seconds, and then repeat with the other arm.
- Stretch both arms out in front of you (palms up) and rest them on your legs (still stretched). Make a fist with both arms and roll your fist back towards you (only your fists should move). You should feel a good stretch in your forearms. When you do, hold this position for a few seconds, and then release back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise a few times.