Getting in the gym with Cerebral Palsy should not be scary. In fact, I love the gym and when I have the CP problem – the gym is the place that I go to. So I decided to share my Cerebral Palsy gym session secrets. I’m going to try cover a lot of ground in a small amount of words – so if you have any specific questions, please either leave comments or message me directly.
Working in the gym will not increase the spasticity in your muscles.
All gyms have a legal responsibility to be accessible and cater for disabled people.
You can OVER stretch your muscles – so be careful.
The Cerebral Palsy Gym Session Golden Rules
- Work the legs – one of the keys to a good Cerebral Palsy gym session is to include exercises that work your legs.
- Get out of your chair.
- Always try and work the bad side!
- Don’t be scared of free weights.
- Always go for less weight and better form.
This is a variation of the session that I would do myself. If you want to lose weight, tone up or get stronger, this session will help you on the way to achieving those goals.
The Warm Up
Following gold rule #1 (work the legs), I like to start the warm up with 10 minutes on the recumbent bike. Recumbent bikes are easier to mount then regular gym bikes so you should be able to transfer to and from your chair easily. If you’re not use to cycling, just try and turn your legs over. No need to go crazy.
The mat is the place where you get into gold rule #2. You can get out onto a mat and perform all kinds of exercises that will increase your range of motion and help iron out wrinkles in those naughty muscles.
Here is what I do in my Cerebral Palsy gym session:
Lateral leg raises – lie flat on the mat, raise your legs and then slow extend one leg at a time. Do 5 on each leg.
Butt Clenches – lie on your side and pull your knees close to your chest – then slowly raise one knee off the other. Do 5 on each side.
Wing stretches (use a theraband) – take the band in both hands and put it behind your head, then stretch out your hands as far as they will go. Hold that position for about 10 seconds and then rest. Repeat 4 times. If you have a bad side, then I suggest trying to work it by holding one side of the band with your good hand and pulling with less mobile hand. No matter how limited the movement might be – some movement is better than none – golden rule #3
You can buy a Theraband pack here.
If you can stand, then do stand for this. If not try kneeling so that your bum is in the air. Your going to need dumbbells for this – so if you have gripping problems – consider using these Active Hands gripping aids – they’ll help you.
Whether your ambulant or use a wheelchair, this shoulder conditioner should be in your Cerebral Palsy gym session.
One of the keys to this exercise is to get a good range of movement. So do not worry about the weight of the dumbbells – I’d start on 2.5kg to begin with. You can always add weight later.
- 6 x lateral raises – hold the dumbbells with the back of your hands facing outwards and raise them up to the top of your chest.
- 6 x bicep curls – try not to swing your arms.
- 6 x shoulder presses – try and keep your elbows level with level with your shoulder line.
If you are hemiplegic try and do all these exercises, no matter how limited the movement might be. If you are hemiplegic, change the shoulder press for a raise. Try and raise the dumbbell as high as you can, do this one arm at a time.
Rest for 2 minutes between sets and repeat 3 times.
If you can – try going on the rower for 15 minutes to finish. You want to going along at no more than 27 strokes per minute. Remember to try and keep both sides of your body even and use a gripping aid if you need to.
Why Trust Me?
I’ve been a competing para sport since age of 11. I have competed as wheelchair sprinter internationally for Great Britain all over the world. I also have a degree in sports science and have worked with many disabled athletes over the years.