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.
You’ve over-indulged during Xmas and the new year. You sat there on the stroke of midnight and promised yourself that this was the year that you were going to get fit!
But getting fit with physical disability can seem like a daunting prospect . You don’t want to do anything that might aggravate your condition or cause you to unknowingly injury yourself.
Your probably asking yourself these questions:
- Where do I go?
- What do I do?
- How often should I do something?
The first thing that I will say is: IF YOU HAVE A LONG TERM CONDITION, ALWAYS SEEK GUIDANCE BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
Right now the disclaimer is out of the way, lets get on with the meet of this blog.
Getting Fit With A Physical Disability Whilst Having Fun
Getting fit with a physical disability should not be daunting and can be a lot of fun. It can be a chance to make new friends and try thins that you never thought were possible. Here I will run down quick list of some organisations that can provide you with some new and exciting opportunities:
CP Sport England and Wales – Their motto is ‘Play. Participate. Enjoy.’, and I can tell you from personal experience that is exactly what you’ll get. They welcome people of all ages and abilities, and you don’t need to have Cerebral Palsy to participate either! They offer football, athletics and swimming as options for getting fit with a physical disability. They operate more in the midlands and the north,
WheelPower – WheelPower are an organisation based in the legendary Stoke Mandeville and offer many of the same opportunities as CP Sport but just based more in the south.
Smile Through Sport – STS is a new organisation created by the living legend Stephen Miller Mbe to create more opportunities for people to get fit and have fun in the Northeast.
Wheelchair Rugby – Getting fit with a physical disability does not always have to be safe. Wheelchair Rugby is the option for those of us who like life a little rougher.
What If I Don’t Want To Play Sport
Getting fit with a physical disability does not have to be all about getting involved in sport. Equipment like hand cycles can transform your wheelchair and get you going places that you never thought possible! Read our guide to buying hand cycles here.
Upgrade Your Wheelchair
Maybe the key to getting fit for you is a new wheelchair? The right wheelchair can open up the world for you. Check out our guide to buying a wheelchair here.
What About In The Gym
That’s my good friend Rob Smith in the gym using Active Hands. Active Hands’ gripping aids are a great way to make the most annoying gym equipment accessible!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging from the gym about how to achieve your fitness goals, whatever your disability is!