Disability Gym Workout


Hi, my name is Rob Smith. I’ve been doing disability sports for quite a few years. I’ve been a wheelchair rugby player for many years and now I’m doing wheelchair track racing. I’m here today outside this gym, we’ll go inside in a minute and have a look at what kind of equipment they have and what you can do to use that equipment as a wheelchair user and someone with a disability. My injury is a spinal cord injury, I’ve had a neck injury, my hands are quite badly affected and also I have an incomplete injury so I have some core function. But we’ll go inside and see what we can do for anyone with a disability and see how we can adapt the equipment and see what we can do to have a good workout. (music) This looks like a really nice gym. Got lots of good equipment here. It’s not a fully accessible gym; and that’s the whole idea. We want to be here and see what exercises we can do to have a good workout in an average gym near you. We’ve got some gym machines here, some free weights over there, this is a TRX system. – we can have a good go on that later on. And we can see how we can adapt what we have got with some equipment and some good ideas. So let’s go and have a workout. For the equipment in this gym I have separated the workout into four different sections. Let’s begin with the first section – free weights. Using the gyms free weights is a great way to get an all over fitness regime started. Sometimes it can be difficult to grip onto the free weights if your hand function is poor here I’m using some Active Hands gripping aids to help me hold the free weights. It attaches around the wrist then over the hand… …there are some handy bits to help you pull it through with your fingers and it does up really tightly. The gripping aids allow you to hold the weight with your hand they stay firm and secure in your hand while you do a workout. I’ll just go through a few examples of free weight exercises that you can do. I’ll be doing these ones in the chair We can start with some bicep curls. Then we’ve got a shoulder press It’s always good to work using a mirror to see what you are doing – to check if you’re doing the right type of exercise and that your form is good. I’m feeling very confident holding this weight above my head – it’s not going to slip at all. This is a straight arm shoulder raise. You might want to hold on to the other side of your chair just to get your balance. Now we’re doing a tricep press. This weight is quite heavy for me for this exercise. Make sure you vary the weight according to the exercise you are doing. I am doing these with one weight for speed of demonstrating. Another good exercise is a bent over row. This really strengthens the back of your shoulders for the up-stroke of a push in your chair. Some people might find it easier to work from a bench. This one has got a solid back to give you a bit more support. and you are not likely to tip over like you could do in your chair. Again there is the possibility of the same exercises. I’m just using my hand to brace myself in my chair, just to get a bit more balance, Here are a few handy hints and tips. When using free weights I often find it’s useful to use the Heavy Use grip wrap. This is another Active Hands product. It’s a neoprene wrap that goes around the weight handle… …it pads it out a little bit, stops it slipping and gives you more support and comfort. To avoid discomfort on the thumb when lifting heavy weights.. try these thumb protectors. They create a barrier between your skin and the weight itself and work well with the other Active Hands products Bench press is a great exercise for the shoulders and triceps but particularly for the pectoral muscles. I’m going to use somebody to help me spot here because with poor hand function it’s difficult to balance the weight. and you don’t want it to roll off on you. I’m also finding it very difficult, on this quite narrow bench, to keep my balance when I’m trying to press. I prefer to be as independent as possible in the gym but sometimes doing the bench press using somebody to spot for you can safely help increase the weight or repetitions. for other ways to do pectoral exercises we’ll use the machines shown in the next section. As well as free weights many gyms will have weights machines where you can do many similar exercises. Some will have seats that swing away to allow you to workout from your wheelchair sometimes you may have to transfer. This exercise is very similar to a bench press but from a seated vertical position. It’s also possible to use this machine for a fly exercise this will start with the arms in a wider starting position and they would come together in the middle as you push forward. this works your inner pecs. The lat pull down machine here is quite a difficult one to use. the seat is quite small and there is no back support at all. You may be able to use someone else to help you support your trunk if you’re in this situation… or many other machines have a back support that you can use. Here I am using the Active Hands looped exercise aids. These are really good if you are using two hands at the same time. It allows you to get on and off the bar completely independently. The loops are stiff and stay open so you can easily slide them on and off the bar at the start and finish of your workout. The starting position of the bar will probably be too high to reach. A good tip is to pull the pin out first, get somebody’s help to pull the bar down, then push the pin back in the appropriate position. You should then be able to reach the bar easily. Once you have found a comfortable position for your hands on the bar… pull the bar down, behind your head, until it just about touches your shoulders. As you release the bar up again release it slowly so you get a workout on the way up as well. You can also pull the bar down in front of your head so it touches your chest this works a slightly different set of muscles. When you have finished it is easy to slide your hands off the bar because the loops stay open and are stiff. The shoulder press is another great exercise we can do in the gym. As you push up – exhale… as the weight comes down – inhale. You should be doing smooth motions up and down. Some gyms may have other machines you can use as well, but the last one we will use in this gym is the seated rowing machine. We’ll use the Active Hands gripping aids again, they do up around the wrist and we’ll be using the loops to grab the handles of this seated rowing machine. They’ll just slide on , pretty easily, and give you a nice, firm grip so you can pull as big a weight as you need to. This is a great exercise for wheelchair users. Most wheelchair exercises use a forward pushing motion, this one works in oppostion and strengthens the shoulder at the back, rather than at the front. This exercise can help prevent forward rounding of the shoulders, which is a common problem after many years of wheelchair use. Cable and pulley machines are great for disabled users. You can move the pulley height to suit various exercises and workouts can be done from a wheelchair or a removable chair if required. This first exercise simulates the downward stroke of a push of a wheelchair. Vary the weights and the repetitions for the desired workout. Less weight, more repetitions for stamina. More weight, less repetitions for strength. There are often various types of handles and attachments that can be used on these cable and pulley machines. Personally I prefer these ones with solid handles but a flexible strap. These ones enable you to pull using the strap part of the handle alone if you have the wrist strength to do this. This exercise, done with a straight, or nearly straight arm works the shoulders and simulates the later part of a push stroke This is different to a tricep exercise and builds strength using the second half of the stroke on the push rims for wheelchair racing or for swimming. Doing tricep raises above the head isolates the triceps and adds the extra weight of lifting your own arm. Ideally keep arm vertical and still and only lift from the elbow. Alternatively, move the pulley to a high position and push down from the elbow with the arms at your side. Either can be done with both arms at the same time on one handle if required and balance allows. To increase strength across the back of the shoulders either set the pulleys low and work to a diagonal high position, Or the other way round with the pulleys high and working to a low position. Imagine squeezing the shoulder blades together as you do this exercise. As well as for building strength the cable and pulley machines are great for conditioning the body and preventing injury. With long term wheelchair use rotator cuff problems can be an injury that often occurs. This exercise helps prevent rotator cuff problems in the future. Keep your arm at your side, rotate from the elbow, inwards, across the body. Perform this exercise pulling inwards with both arms then also outwards with both arms. Not every gym will have all the attachments for these cable and pulley machines. or you may prefer to attach directly to the karibina on the machines. Here I’m using the Active Hands D-Ring aid, which allows me to attach directly to the karibiner. This enables me to perform all the exercises previously shown and some others in addition. tricep raises, straight arm lifts, across the body pulls, (here I’m just using one hand and stabilising myself with the other) bicep curls, and shoulder raises. Here just trying to lift your shoulders nicely up to your ears and hold for a second. I’ve recently really enjoyed using the punch bag on the TRX system. I didn’t get on very well with the gyms normal boxing gloves so I used some of the Active Hands products to help me. Here I’ve got one of the gripping wraps attached around a piece of plastic tubing and I’m putting that in my hand with the general purpose gripping aid. These work really well as boxing gloves and the addition of the padded bar inside your hand stops your fingers being crushed when you punch the bag. I find it best to attach both wrist straps first then when you have got one of the bars in your hand, struggle to do the last one! It is a little bit difficult, but with a bit of perseverence you can do the second one up but you might have to use your teeth. Once they are both tight let’s get ready to box. I don’t profess to be an expert at boxing but I do find that this is a great exercise. This is great for a cardiovascular workout. It also improves fast-twitch muscle fibres, which are great for sports requiring quick bursts of power: such as accelerating and rapid changes of direction. Working from a wheelchair the chair will move about so you can try punching with one hand while steadying the chair with the other. If core strength and balance in you chair is more of an issue try putting the chair up against the TRX system, You can then lean the punch bag on your knees and you are in a more secure position to do your workout. With the bag on your knees you can get much closer to it and you can also use your head to stabilise yourself a bit. I find that varying the speed and position that you punch the bag will work slightly different muscles. Here I am using the tricep dip bar in a high position to do a chin up exercise. I’ve attached one hand to each side of the bar using the Active Hands looped aids. With my feet on the floor, I have just about enough balance to do this exercise. Alternatively, you can use one bar and put the loops in front of each other and bring your head up either side of the bar. When you have finished just try and position yourself back onto the chair. This TRX system has a mini trampoline which is great for throwing a heavy medicine ball against. This is a great exercise for triceps and balance. To vary your workout you can change the weight of the medicine ball and the distance from the trampoline. Bear in mind that a heavy medicine ball could knock you out of the back of your chair when you catch it. This is excellent for sports such as basket ball or wheelchair rugby. The last exercise using the TRX system is the heavy ropes. Use the General Purpose gripping aids from Active Hands to attach these to your hands. Attaching the second one might be a little bit difficult but you should be able to do it using your teeth. Stretch the ropes out. Move the ropes in opposition to work your shoulders and your arms. It’s also really good for balance. As well as working the ropes in opposition, do this exercise with both ropes going up and down at the same time. Thanks for watching and enjoy your workout.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *