Propelling a wheelchair requires a fair amount of strength and dexterity. If you are not careful the constant pushing can result in discomfort or sometimes injury. The most vulnerable body parts are the arms and shoulders.

You can eliminate most of the pain by using the correct pushing technique, using the correct equipment and increasing strength with exercises. The guide below will help wheelchair users to drastically reduce arm and shoulder issues.

The incorrect posture, angle of the wheelchair or propelling motion can place extra stress on the muscles, joints and connective tissue.

  • Move arms in a circular motion instead of a back and forth direction. Allow your hands to produce small circular motions inside the bigger circle produced by the wheel.
  • Minimize resistance by keeping tires properly inflated.
  • You tend to overwork if you are sitting position is too low or too high. Once you are leaning back in your chair, relax your arms and your fingertips should go just a little past the axle.
  • Keep your body weight to a minimum. A lightweight wheelchair will also save you from pushing as hard.

Exercise can be a Solution

A strong upper body can help to alleviate undue stress and possible injury. If in doubt just take a look at how flexible the shoulders are on Olympic swimmers. The more the shoulder muscles and connective tissue are stretched and strengthened, the less problem you will have.

You doctor or physical therapist will be able to prescribe some exercises to strengthen and maintain your shoulder muscles.

Although the days in Phoenix are a bit on the cooler side, you shouldn’t give up your outdoor activities. Doing those activities will help to maintain your good shape.

It Might Be Time for a Power Wheelchair

For those who are elderly or if you simply don’t want to push your manual wheelchair anymore, it might be time to look at a power wheelchair.

If you have more questions about specific exercises that can help to strengthen your shoulder, ask your doctor or physio therapist for a specific exercise program. You can also find a wealth of info on YouTube.


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