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Tailor your abdominal exercises to your specific needs with cable exercises.
If you have a wheelchair, it's important to exercise your waist and stomach muscles so that they don't become weak and atrophy. To help you exercise your abdominals, there are several conditioning exercises that you can perform while seated in your wheelchair. If your fitness level is still high, consider performing upper body cardio and weight-bearing exercises in your wheelchair, such as basketball, weightlifting or chair yoga.
On the Side
The seated side bend stretch engages the entire side of the waist, the chest and the arms. To perform a seated side bend, sit up tall with a straight spine and root your hips down into the wheelchair seat. Extend your left arm toward the ceiling, hugging the inside of your upper arm to your left ear. Curl your entire upper body and the left arm to the right, making a large "C" shape with your spine. To stretch even further, allow your right arm to hang over the right side of your wheelchair toward the floor. Hold this stretch for 10 to 15 seconds before pulling your upper body back to center and repeating the stretch on the opposite side.
Twist the Night Away
You can stretch and strengthen the sides of your waist with a simple seated abdominal twist. To perform a seated twist, sit up tall in your chair with a straight spine. Lengthen your spine, as your twist your entire upper body to the left. Place your right hand on the left armrest of your wheelchair and your left hand on the back of your wheelchair. Use your hands as leverage to help turn your upper body a bit further to the left. Stretch to the left for 10 to 15 seconds before switching sides and twisting your upper body to the right.
Try Stomach Pumps
Stomach pumps are a great exercise to perform if you have low mobility in your upper body and find it hard to twist and move. To perform stomach pumps you simply have to pump your stomach muscles. Sit up tall with a straight spine and root your hips into the seat of your wheelchair. Pulse your abdominal muscles in and out as fast as you can for a 30-second to one-minute cycle. As you draw your abdominal muscles in, pull your belly button back toward your spine. This exercise can make you feel nauseous if you have food in your stomach, so try to perform this at least two hours after you've eaten a large meal.
Sit and Crunch
Just because you are wheelchair bound doesn't mean that you can't perform crunches for your abdominal muscles. To perform a seated crunch, sit up tall with your spine straight and cross your arms across your chest. Pull your belly button in toward your spine to engage your core muscles. Press your lower back against the back of your wheelchair, as you curl your shoulders, head and chest toward your thighs. Straighten your spine and come back to the starting position. Perform as many seated crunches as you can in a 30-second to one-minute interval.