The Importance of Exercise After a Paralyzing Spinal Cord Injury
While it may not be the first thing you think about when recovering from a spinal cord injury, exercise has many beneficial functions to help with healing and quickened recovery. It prevents some of the potential secondary conditions related to SCI such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, pressure sores, urinary tract infection and respiratory disease. It also helps prevent obesity while reducing stress.
SCI does make certain motions difficult and others impossible to do, but there are versions of both aerobic and strength training workouts that can be tailored to your disability.
It’s recommended that strength training be performed three times a week, with exercises such as pull-ups and push-ups in your wheelchair. There are stabilizing straps that can be purchased to assist with balance and coordination. Another useful exercise includes the use of free weights or a machine such as the Bowflex. With a spotter, these can be useful to your training program and doable with partial paralysis.
Some suggested cardiovascular exercises for someone in a wheelchair include upper-body calisthenics, the use of a rowing machine, sports such as basketball, and wheelchair ergometry.
With all of these exercises, keep in mind that you should rest between training muscle groups and always have a partner or straps to help with balance and safety!