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Old 08-27-2009, 01:15 PM   #1
Sara Fleming
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Crossfit in a Wheelchair

I'm teaching a group fitness class at my son's pre-school for the teachers and one of them is in a wheelchair. She is pretty mobile from the waist up, but not so much from the waist down. I'm going to assess her next week and class begins in two weeks.

Anyway, I'm going to be teaching the class one day a week starting with three classes of foundational training and then we're going to add in some power training with kettlebells, etc.

Can anyone suggest some good exercises to substitute in so that I don't overtrain her upper body? Obviously mid-line stability and cardiovascular work would be great. She swims and lifts some weights, but her posture is poor.

She is able to get out of her chair and down onto the floor to exercise, but does not have use of her legs.

Thank you for any suggestions.

Sara

Last edited by Sara Fleming : 08-27-2009 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:49 AM   #2
David Meverden
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

Have you watched the CFJ article on training wounded/disabled veterans? If not, I recommend it, might give you some ideas. The first in the series of 4 came out March 19, 2009. Search for "The Warrior Spirit".

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Originally Posted by Sara Fleming View Post
Can anyone suggest some good exercises to substitute in so that I don't overtrain her upper body? Obviously mid-line stability and cardiovascular work would be great. She swims and lifts some weights, but her posture is poor.
I'm confused about the over training comment. It sounds like you don't want her upper body to become to strong when compared to her lower body, but with no lower body ability that can be developed this seems like a moot point.

Do you just mean you are worried about overtraining in general, since everything will subbed for upper body stuff?
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Old 08-31-2009, 03:56 AM   #3
Sara Fleming
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

Thanks for your reply. I'll check out those videos. (just watched, awesome and inspiring)

Regarding the overtraining, since she's not used to the kind of strength training we do, I don't want to oversubstitute upper body exercises for the duration of the class (while the others are doing lower body exercises) and subsequently set her up for tendonitis or an overuse injury early on. So, yes, just overtraining in general, especially during the foundational period.

I do want to make her upper body as strong as possible as she relies on it the most for everything. I also want to find ways to wake up those lower core muscles without the use of the hips. I'm thinking a lot of isometrics are going to play a role here. I'll have to see how much use she has of her legs, but I think I can adapt some of the WOD's for her to do lying down.

I was thinking of adapting some of the battling ropes movements for cardio/midline stability as a substitute for jumping rope, running, etc.

Last edited by Sara Fleming : 08-31-2009 at 04:22 AM. Reason: watched the wounded warriors videos
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:46 AM   #4
Davi Cohen
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

Thanks for posting this question, Sara. I'm very interested in adapting Crossfit training methodology for people with significant movement limitations. And, as it happens, I'm currently in an immobilization boot and on crutches healing a longitudinal split in my posterior tibial tendon.

So I'm all about the upper body right now.

Regarding the overuse concern, even if she *were* used to the kind of strength training you do, you would be wise to have overuse injury prevention strategies in mind.
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Old 09-11-2009, 04:02 AM   #5
Sara Fleming
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

So, I have assessed my client and she is paralyzed completely from right below the sternum down.

For my first class, I'm having everyone do Cindy. So, I'm going to have her get out of her chair and lie on the ground. I will have her do as much of a bodyrow as she can accomplish using rings, roll over and do pushups off the ground (we're going to see how much of a range of motion she can get, this may end up being an isometric exercise), and then, lying on her back again, (instead of squats), raise a light medicine ball from her lap to over her head for midline stabilization.

We're basically going to work together to modify things such that she can participate each week in her own capacity.

Again, if anyone has any other suggestions, I would greatly appreciate the input. Unlike the amputee soldiers, she is not strong and is paralyzed. Therefore getting in and out of her chair multiple times is going to be difficult. I hope to get her stronger, but we're starting at the beginning. She is very enthusiastic and I'm looking forward to this as a learning experience. I am a Crossfit trainer and I have worked with a variety of abilities and disabilities, but this is the most extreme.

Sara
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Old 09-11-2009, 11:03 AM   #6
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

Crossfit Flagstaff has been working with a wheelchair-bound client for quite some time. You might contact Lisa Ray and ask her about the experience.
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Old 09-11-2009, 11:43 AM   #7
Sara Fleming
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

Thanks for the tip Lincoln, I will do that.

Sara
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Old 09-16-2009, 10:16 AM   #8
Timothy D. Christian
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

Its not crossfit fully, but look into bands from lifeline. They have a wall setup where you can train the whole upper body from her chair. Pulldowns and what not until she is strong enough to do pullups, then have her do them from her chair.

Also introduce her to forearm workouts, grippers(even very light ones), squeeze balls, bending, etc. Keep her mind off of the not being able to use her legs.

Also I grew up with a kid in a wheelchair, I would sweat the tendonitis too bad, they have extremely resilient upper bodies because of the disability.

The arm rower? is another good one to have her try if available.

http://www.lifelineusa.com/en/produc...n=all-productsYOU MUST ENSURE YOU ANNOTATE ALL LINKS WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFE.

Dont have to buy that, but you can get some ideas from it. I dont have the wall mount, I just hook a cable over a door handle.

Last edited by Lynne Pitts : 09-17-2009 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 09-17-2009, 05:29 PM   #9
Sara Fleming
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

Thanks Timothy, I appreciate the feedback.

I actually just completed the first class and had her work with my TRX suspension trainer hanging from an overhead beam. She was able to do pullups out of her chair and then pushups from the chair arms. I started the class with a squat clinic and had her participate with the upper body movements by concentrating on isometric mid-line stabilization and arching her back.

I'm glad to say report she was excited about the results and although she is paralyzed from right below the sternum down, she said she felt she was using muscles she thought were "dead".

This is a fantastic learning experience for me so I'll post some more updates as we go.
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Old 09-21-2009, 08:37 AM   #10
Davi Cohen
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Re: Crossfit in a Wheelchair

awesome!
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