As with any person, disabled individuals can of course benefit highly from stretching on a regular basis. Whether it’s for alleviating muscle cramps and pains, or helping to extend your physical abilities for years to come – stretching can play a huge role in ensuring you’re in tip top condition, for longer.
Various research studies have shown that there are many benefits of stretching. For example, it can help improve flexibility and, consequently, the range of motion of your joints. In turn, better flexibility may and probably will improve your performance in physical activities, decrease the risk of injuries, help your joints move through their full range of motion, enable your muscles to work most effectively, and it can also increase blood flow to the muscles.
Let’s break it up a bit.
Avoiding muscle pain
By limbering yourself up and stretching ahead of any physical exercise, which may indeed just include pushing your manual wheelchair – an activity you regularly perform – you can help yourself to overcome any potential muscle strains or tears. This can easily occur as a result of repetitious and laborious movements, such as pushing your self-propelling wheelchair.
Besides, stretching is an integral part of any person’s exercise routine. Seeing as pushing your wheelchair is, in fact, also a form of exercise, it’s important to ensure you’re ready to do the things you’re going to require your body to do. One of the benefits of stretching is that it can really help to prevent any muscle injuries.
Much like the previous point of protecting your muscles, stretching can also help you with your joints. This ensures that you’re all warmed up and ready to go before setting about your daily routine, which involves the strenuous movement of pushing your wheelchair.
Regardless of the type of your disability and the level of mobility you’re capable, stretching for 5-10 minutes before you start your day can help your joints remain protected for longer. If you’re unable to stretch yourself, a family member or a health professional can help you with your exercise routine and get your body ready for the day ahead.
Enhance your physical abilities
This should go without saying, but stretching itself is a form of physical exercise, so by stretching regularly you’re also enhancing your physical capabilities in the long run. On the other hand, by stretching you can also momentarily set yourself up for greater responsiveness when you ask your body to do certain things. For example, if you’re about to push yourself up a huge hill, you may find that you don’t get as fatigued (at least if we’re talking about muscle fatigue) if you’ve taken the time to prepare your body by doing things such as stretching.
Stretching has also been shown to help improve circulation, as it’s not just your muscles and joints that are feeling the benefits of stretching. This is especially important for people with disabilities who use wheelchairs, because their blood flow and veins will also receive a little boost. This ensures that the flow of blood to various key areas will be assisted further. This means that stretching can, among other things, slow down, postpone, or even entirely prevent bedsores from developing on the areas of your skin which are under prolonged periods of increased pressure. Which leads us to the next point.
Overcome complications faced by constantly sitting
There is one thing which can often be overlooked by wheelchair users and that is the simple fact that our bodies are not necessarily designed to be in a seated position for long periods of time.
Therefore, if you can take conventional stretching that you may do whilst sitting in your wheelchair, and take it a step further,that is stretching out fully on a bed and ensuring key areas of your torso and legs are stretched to their maximum ability, then you are helping yourself to alleviate some of the discomfort that may develop from being stuck in a seated position for most of the day, every day of the week.
Helps to overcome stress
As stretching allows you to improve the blood flow throughout your body, including your brain, it also results in a calmer and more peaceful mindset. You will not only feel refreshed, but your energy levels will also be increased, resulting in an improved sense of liveliness.
Furthermore, when feeling overwhelmed, muscles tighten as a defensive strategy. The more you stretch, the less tense muscles will be, so this very effective form of stress management is also one of the benefits of stretching.
Why not combine your stretching with a little bit of yoga, and take things to the next level? Naturally, your abilities when it comes to practicing yoga will depend entirely on the flexibility of your body and your own physical limitations, but as with anything in life, things can be adapted to best suit your personal requirements.
If you opt to practice different yoga techniques, then this can also be a brilliant way to help yourself de-stress from the comings and goings of everyday life. Yoga and stretching has been proven to be an effective form of relaxation and of course, anything that can help remove stress will have a knock-on benefit to your life, with such things as lower blood pressure coming into play.
Before you commit yourself to stretching, make sure you do it safely and effectively. While you can stretch anytime and anywhere, including your wheelchair, proper technique is crucial. Stretching incorrectly can actually do more harm than good. Always consult professionals, such as your doctor or physical therapist, about the most appropriate way to stretch.
If you’d like to find more blog posts that may interest you, such as: “Transport Wheelchairs: Convenient and Comfortable” – be sure to check out the Passionate People blog site right away!