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Resistance Training Exercises for Disabled People

Resistance training exercise on wheelchair
Alokita
Alokita | June 7, 2017 (Last update: November 12, 2021)

Alokita is a Polio Survivor. She overcame her disability and went on to become a commerce graduate. Alokita writes about disability issues and her appetite for learning new things is far from satiated.

Just like aerobics and strength training exercises, resistance training is also very important for physically challenged persons. It becomes more important when a person is having locomotor disability and is prone to falling due to balance problem. Resistance is the power to counter the effect of any force working on your body. A person with poor body balance may fall due to a sudden push or pull from external forces or simply due to losing her balance. Resistance training exercises help build resistance power in muscles so as to counter any external force such as sudden push or simply the gravitational force to keep the person from falling down.

What is Resistance Training?

Resistance training is many a time confused with strength/weight training exercises due to overlapping features as both of them work on strengthening muscles. In a layman’s terms, strength training maybe seen as the exercises that are done using free-weights while resistance training is done using resistance band or resistance machines; you cannot increase weights by your choice in resistance training exercises.

The resistance training exercises maybe seen as a safer option as compared to strength training as it does not have much room for injury. If you don’t have a trainer to supervise, then resistance training is the best option for working out muscles.

In the resistance training exercises one needs to work-up their muscles against a force to create muscle-tension thus stimulating muscles as well as bone growth.

Resistance training exercise on wheelchair

Benefits of Resistance Training Exercises

It is evident that resistance training builds resistive power in body muscles. But this is not the only benefit of resistance exercises. There are lot more to be gained by adding 2-3 days of resistance training exercises in your weekly fitness regime.

  • Resistance training exercises build up body stability thus bringing you out of the ‘frequent-falling-risk-zone’. When you are not falling frequently you can rest assured for lesser or no injury.
  • These exercises are good for joints as they strengthen stabilizer muscles without posing a threat of muscular rupture.
  • Resistance training is low impact exercise so they gradually increase muscular power by making the muscles work against a force.
  • Apart from increasing body balance; resistance exercises are good for maintaining flexibility of the body. In other words resistance exercises give you maximum possible control of your body.
  • Resistance exercises gradually build stamina of the body. Fatigue is a serious problem for almost every ageing individual, especially a person with locomotors disability. Growing stamina equals to lesser fatigue and more active lifestyle.
  • Regular resistance training exercise helps an individual to improve on his posture and get in good body-shape in the long run.

Choosing a Resistance-band for Yourself

For doing resistance training exercises at home you just need a resistance-band of your choice. You can find resistance bands in varying types, sizes and tension. Obviously they are available in a variety of colours too but they are mainly colour-coded according to the tension or resistance; so you cannot choose them according to your colour preference.

Basically you have to choose your band keeping in view three factors (colour will take care of itself) i.e. type, size and tension.

Types of resistance band

  1. Thread-bands are the simplest type of resistance bands available. They are mainly made up of stretchable rubber or latex with no handle or anything attached to it.
  2. String resistance bands also referred to as resistance tube. These are string or tube shaped resistance training equipment with handles for better grip at both ends.
  3. Loop resistance bands as the name suggests, these are resistance bands whose ends are attached giving them a shape of loop.
  4. 8 Shaped resistance bands are clearly resistance band shaped in a form of 8 with handles at both ends.

As a beginner you can start from any of these four resistance training equipment as per your liking. But if you wish to exercise your whole body using resistance equipment; it would be best to take two of them. Thread-bands and string-resistance bands can be used interchangeably and same is the case with loop and 8 shaped bands. You don’t need to take all four of them.

Size and tension of resistance band

Size of the resistance band does not create much fuss. The handles of resistance tube are generally detachable and adjustable. And none of the other types of resistance-bands create much problem. But you can choose the size according to your comfort.

The main tension is choosing the tension (resistance) level of the equipment. The best way is to start from the minimum resistance and gradually increase to upper levels. Obviously you would like to work-out using the highest tension band but it’s wise to start from your current physical state rather than jumping to the position you want to reach.

The resistance levels are colour-coded but the coding differs from company to company. And there are a few who are manufacturing the bands with random colours without any proper coding. It is advisable to choose the manufacturer according to customer’s reviews and stick to that manufacturer for increasing the resistance band’s tension level (for the obvious reason that different manufacturers have different level of tension in their equipment).

Resistance Training Exercises Suited for Wheelchair Users

The resistance training exercises you see anywhere are merely an indicative exercises. You can actually device and customize resistance training exercises yourself if you understand the concept of these exercises. The focus should be on working your muscles in as much direction as you can, using the resistance band to create a counter force.

Let us see some of the resistance exercises that you can do while sitting on your wheelchair:

  1. Hold your resistance band with both of your hands to your front and stretch it as much as possible. Try to apply same force from both the hands. After reaching to the maximum level bring your hands back to the relaxed position. Repeat this to complete your repetition of 12 in three sets.
  2. Take your loop or 8 shaped resistance band and wear it like handcuffs. Now stretch the band as much as possible using the power of your wrists. Relax. And repeat. If you have power in your legs you should do this exercise using your legs. You can do it by placing the band at ankle level and then to your knee level.
  3. Wrap your resistance band around your wheelchair’s backrest, take both the loose ends in your hands and stretch them as much as you can, in front of you. Relax. Repeat.
  4. Keeping resistance band tied as in step three you can do yet another exercise. Keep one hand normally on your hand-rest (strongly holding the edge of resistance band) and stretch the resistance-band diagonally with other hand. Repeat the same exercise with the other hand.
  5. If your legs are strong enough you can use them or tie on end of the resistance band in your footrest or somewhere around the front-wheel and then pull resistance band in upside direction as much as you can. Repeat the exercise after tying the band on the other side of the foot-rest.
  6. Wrap your resistance band around any stable thing such as your balcony railing, rods of window or a door handle of a closed door and you know well what to do next. Yes you guessed it right! You have to pull the resistance band towards yourself straight and diagonally too.

If any of the movement is too easy for you then you must increase your repetition or take a higher tension resistance band. But if there is some movement that feels really tough, you should not leave it completely. Do thrice, twice or even once but if you are able to do then do it. Leave only those exercises that are simply impossible in your body condition and don’t even think about them. Focus on the one that you can do and try to do them as best as you can.

Keep exercising for keeping yourself fit and active.

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One response to “Resistance Training Exercises for Disabled People”

  1. Avatar George Abraham says:

    Your workouts and instructions are pretty good. I am blind and have recently purchased the Fitsy resistence bands. These are tubes that can be attached to the handles at either ends.

    Need instructions for upper body, abs, arms and legs. Will you be able to help? For your reference, I am 62 and reasonably healthy.

    Thanks

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