Best Way To Build Your Shoulder Strength

Wheelchair users often experience upper extremity injury and pain. Estimates are that upwards of 70 to 100% of individuals will experience upper extremity pain using their wheelchair at some point in their lives. These consequences become more likely the longer one uses a wheelchair. The effects occur in three main locations:

  • Wrist and carpal tunnel 40-66%
  • Elbow 5-16%
  • Shoulder 30-60%

Can I get the why and how to fix it? For most wheelchair users their shoulders become the primary loader for transferring. Using a wheelchair puts significant demands on the upper extremities due to some of the following:

  • Repetitive trauma and loading
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Poor seated posture (scoliosis, kyphosis) and shoulder function
  • An incorrect technique used during wheelchair ambulation

The magic pill is…you guessed it…exercise. Exercise and weight training on a regular basis help prevent injury, but it also helps reduce existing pain. Current guidelines suggest that adults should engage in at least 20 min of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity two times per week and strength training exercises two times per week. Integrate flexibility exercises into your fitness programs to maintain a normal range of motion in the upper body.

Get on the stretching train. Studies have shown a combination of regular stretching of the anterior upper body and strengthening exercise for the posterior upper body to treat and manage shoulder pain. It has been recommended that a home exercise program needs to be completed a minimum of 3 days a week for it to have a significant impact on improving shoulder health. We would be silly not to mention Jesi Stracham’s Functional Mobility class was created for shoulder health.

Some Bullet points in case you felt the copy above was too long and boring.

Stretching Benefits:

  • Reduces muscle tightness and soreness
  • Maintains good shoulder range of motion and mobility
  • Assists with correcting postural issues associated with sitting for prolonged hours (scoliosis, thoracic kyphosis)

Strengthening Benefits:

  • Increases muscular endurance and reduces the onset of fatigue
  • By strengthening the supporting muscles around the shoulder gives it greater support to decrease the risk of shoulder injuries
  • Help joint stabilization, power production for transfers, and wheelchair propulsion

Check out our Functional Mobility class plus seven other live classes that are accessible first.

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