Can you still exercise with limited mobility?
Of course, you can!
In fact, being stuck in a wheelchair or having limited movement should not stop you from staying fit and active.
Exercising with limited mobility is still possible.
Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise.
Most of the time, the only concern you have with exercising when you have limited mobility is safety. If you’re not getting any younger or you suddenly find yourself ill or recovering from an accident, exercising is still possible. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. You just need to be careful to do each exercise efficiently.
Exercising with limited mobility: why having the right mindset is IMPORTANT
Before you jump on any exercise routine, it’s important that you keep a right mindset towards exercise despite your present condition.
Your limiting beliefs can cause you to shy away from exercising and getting the full benefits of staying active despite your limited mobility.
If you feel fearful and uncertain to do some exercising after getting ill or injured, it’s valid. It’s also valid if you feel a little awkward exercising because of getting older. But that doesn’t mean that exercising is not possible.
In fact, there are a lot of ways that you can exercise without adding to your injury. Or further hurt yourself because of untrained muscles. When done right, exercise can actually help improve your mobility. This is where the importance of having trained fitness trainers comes in.
With Special Strong, you get to train with professionals who have the knowledge to help you achieve the fitness goal you need and deserve.
Keep reading this post and check out the different exercises you can do to help improve your mobility.
Exercises for limited mobility
There are many types of exercise you can do even if your mobility is limited at the moment. In fact, there are three (3) major types of limited mobility exercises that you can do to ensure that your body gets the maximum benefit from exercising.
Feeling stuck in your wheelchair? Here are 10 exercises you can try.
Flexibility exercises for limited mobility
Perhaps one of the most underrated, yet one of the most important type of exercise for people with limited mobility are flexibility exercises.
This type of exercise helps your body prevent further muscle atrophy wherein the normal muscle shrinks from its normal size due to a lack of mobility. Even if you have limited mobility, flexibility exercises allow you to prevent further injury, improve your range of motion and also reduce muscle stiffness.
Check out some of these easy stretching exercises you can do at home or at a gym like Special Strong:
- Seated Hamstring Toe Touch
To do this exercise, it’s best that you use an exercise mat.
Lay on the mat with your feet straight in front of you. Bending from your hips, reach your toes with your hand and hold the position for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t do it this long, you can start with 10 seconds. You can also extend the time if you can for better intensity.
If you want to add some additional stretch, you can pull your toes upward.
- Chest stretch
Another easy stretching exercise you can do is the chest stretch.
If you’re in a wheelchair or something similar due to limited mobility, all you have to do is find a doorway or a post that would offer you support as you do this exercise.
Raise and bend your arms at a 90-degree angle then touch the door or wall to give you a nice stretch. Look at the image below to see how it’s done.
Hold your position for at least 20 seconds or more if you can then just alternate sides. Repeat this for at least 10 reps for a maximum stretch.
- Knee Tuck
If you want something a little more complicated but will help you stretch out your lower back and glutes, the Supine Knee Tuck exercise would be perfect for you.
But instead of hugging your knees to your chest with your other leg fully extended in a straight fashion, the knee tuck exercise for people with limited mobility can be done with assistance.
Instead of you hugging your knees, someone can help you tuck your knees and hold it in position for at least 20 seconds. Then you just have to repeat this exercise with your other feet and vice versa.
Core exercises for limited mobility
Simply known as strength training exercises, core exercises help you build strength into your core so you don’t fall and get better balance. It also builds your muscles and bone mass since both tend to shrink when unused for a long time.
If you are not able to use your legs, you should focus on upper body strength and core training. On the other hand, you may have a shoulder injury so you need to focus on strengthening your legs instead. Since strength is very much needed whether you need strength on your legs or your upper body, focusing on core exercises for strength would be your best course.
Here are some core exercises you can do to build strength:
- Arm circles
One of the easiest strength exercises you can do is the arm circles. All you have to do is extend your arms out on both sides at shoulder height. Keep your neck at a relaxed pose then rotate your arms in a circle five times forward. Then repeat the action again, but this time backward.
If you need to increase the intensity of this exercise, you can add more reps over time as long as you don’t strain your arm muscles so much.
- Shoulder Retractions
As a core exercise, this one is quite easy. All you need to do is sit back straight, contract your ab muscles, push both of your arms in front of you and make sure that your joints are as relaxed as possible. To retract your shoulder muscles, bend your elbows, pull your arms back a bit and squeeze your shoulder blades at the same time.
You can add intensity to this exercise by pulling on a resistance band – just make sure that it’s safely attached to a wall and use the added weight to develop strength in your upper body.
- Battle rope wave
If you don’t have mobility with your legs, yet you have full control of your upper body, you can do the advanced exercise of the battle rope wave.
This exercise targets your shoulders, your biceps and of course, your core.
While sitting on your wheelchair, all you have to do is hold on to a battle rope and wave it as fast as possible. Make sure that you keep your elbows tucked in and your movement to a minimum to ensure the least pain or strain on your muscles.
- Knee Raises
If it’s your upper body that lacks strength, you can use your lower body – starting from your hips, your legs, knees then right down to your feet to do some strength training.
One exercise you can do is the knee raise.
Start with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly and carefully, lift your leg and bend it slightly at the knee. Lift it as high as you could and hold the position for about five seconds before doing the same routine with your other knee.
If you can’t keep your knees on a high position for five seconds, you can immediately switch to using your other knee doing the same exercise.
For more intensity, you can raise or lift both of your knees at the same time and hold it for a few seconds for added intensity.
- Toe taps
An exercise as simple as a toe tap can be difficult when you have limited mobility, but it can be done.
Just make sure you’re sitting up straight with your feet flat. Carefully tilt your toes upward the ceiling then put them back to their original position. Repeat this several times to keep your blood pumping from your toes up your legs.
To increase the intensity of this exercise, you can raise one of your legs and let your other foot do the toe tap exercise and vice versa.
Cardiovascular exercises for limited mobility
Last, but not the least, are cardiovascular exercises. Any type of exercise is beneficial to your health. But cardiovascular exercises not only increases your heart rate for better blood circulation, it also helps build your endurance.
Since you have limited mobility, the best form of cardiovascular exercise would be cycling and aqua jogging. Stationary bikes are ideal if you can still move your legs.
On the other hand, cardiovascular exercises can be strenuous sometimes so aqua jogging or doing water aerobics would be perfect. This type of cardiovascular routine involves swimming or literally jogging into the water. This is because water (think of a swimming pool) helps reduce muscle discomfort and joint pain. Swimming also relaxes your body as a whole so you get the full benefit of having your whole body exercised – not just your lungs and your heart.
So you see, exercises for someone with limited mobility is still possible. You just have to be careful about it and make sure that you have the right people to help you with your fitness journey.
Special Strong offers adaptive and inclusive fitness programs and trainings that caters even to individuals with limited mobility. Sign up now to join local group classes available in your area or get private training sessions with a licensed professional to help you get fit in no time.
Still unsure if Special Strong fitness is the right fit for you? Not to worry. We offer a 7-day pass for free to help you try us out before you commit to any fitness program.