When you are disabled it is just as it is for abled people but it is harder because like abled people can just jump on a treadmill and get a good cardio workout not all disabled people can do that. Christmas is around the corner and if you are shopping for a disabled person you may be thinking that getting them new fitness equipment is a good idea. It is a great idea but you have to understand that not all equipment is created equall and although most fitness equipment works great for abled people it doesn’t always work for people with physical disabilities because some equipment targets muscle groups we don’t have and is completely useless to us. It’s important for disabled people to stay as active as possible but we can’t do that if we have a bunch of useless pieces of equipment so that there is no room for things that may acutally be helpful. In this post I am going to talk about some things you can get disabled people that may help them improve their strength and some that might be more difficult and you shouldn’t ever consider getting.
Let’s start with what is always helpful:
Yoga Mat– If you are just starting a fitness journey one of the first things you will need before anything else is a yoga mat because although you can do mat exercies without a mat it won’t feel so great without the extra support. A yoga mat can provide extra support when you’re doing ab workouts so you won’t get unwanted pressure sores. Most of what I do is weightless and laying down on the ground so I use my yoga mat pretty much the whole time! If you know the person you are buying for has tailbone sensitivity I would advise you get something thicker because it can provide extra support and if it’s too thin we will just end up having to buy a second one.
Weights– -I don’t do a lot of cardio because my hips are bilaterally dislocated and a lot of cardio can put too much pressure on them causing me pain so to make up for all the cardio I don’t do I use that time most people would spend doing cardio by lifting weights. You can always get me a new set of weights because I use them for most of my workout and lately I have being doing a lot more because I want to increase them sometime next year which won’t happen if I am not using them often. If you are just starting out getting a pair of light is probably where you want to start but for me, that is not how I train and if you get me a pair of five-pound dumbells there is a hundred percent chance I will not use them because I would rather train heavier for less time than lighter for longer. Cardio and strength training are both equally important but when you have a physical disability cardio can be difficult because it often requires you to stand a lot which some disabled people have a difficult time with so instead we do more strength training. Weights are always a good idea if you know your buying for someone who is into strength training because the heavier you go the more expensive they are so it’s always nice to get a new set of weights that you didn’t have to buy yourself!
Pilates ring- A pilates ring is a metal circle with two little buttons on the side that whenever press on them it will bounce back at you. I had never heard of this piece of equipment until I saw my Pilates instructor use it in one of her videos so I figured I would buy one and see what the hype was all about. At first, I was skeptical because it’s super light so you wouldn’t think it would be that effective but, wow it was and it made me sore for three days the first time I had used it which is the longest I have ever been sore. I mainly use my pilates ring to work my quads and upper body but you can use this ring to tone pretty much any part of your body. You don’t have to do pilates moves when using this ring but sometimes I don’t and find some other interesting moves on Pinterest or Instagram I want to try and it’s only called a pilates ring because its mostly used in pilates classes but you can use it for other things if you want.
Resistance bands- When I took physical therapy my therapist gave me some resistance bands to practice some exercises and although I don’t do really any of the same exercises as I did in physical therapy I do different ones to improve my strength. Resistance bands are great if you can’t afford weights or are a beginner because they are very light weight adding a lot of resistance to your muscles so you get a serious burn. A lot of resistance bands come in packs of three which is great because you can choose what resistance is right for you and use more or less resistance for different exercises. Remember if you are buying for someone with Spina Bifida to pay extra attention if that band has latex because some of them do and most people with Spina Bifida have had really bad allergic reactions or is at risk of having one.
Active gear- This is not really piece of equipment but something everyone needs if they are starting a new workout program. If you don’t know much about someone’s capabilities and want to get them something that will encourage them to stick with their fitness routine then you can never go wrong with some cute workout clothes. My active gear is what motivates me to workout and everyone is starting a fitness journey needs some!
Now onto what isn’t always useful:
Elliptical machines/ treadmills- If you a chronic illness ellipitical machines maybe extremely beneficial to you but if you have a physical disability it might not be the best idea because not everyone can keep their balance even when holding on to hand rails. When you have Spina Bifida it can be very difficult to get on them and keep your balance once your on because a lot machines are too fast even on the slowest speed. I can use my legs quite a bit but have to be really careful when doing cardio workouts because it doesn’t take much to aggravate my hips that will cause severe pain which will last several days.
Exercise balls- Luckily no one has ever given me a big exercise ball because it would be a pretty useless piece of equipment that just took up space and I don’t know what I would do with it. I would probably have to see if someone in my family wanted it, sell it, or hope that my occupational therapy could have use for it because it would just be taking up space in my home. Most people can use sit or lay on an exercise ball to make them harder but for me, I can’t do that because I don’t have the stability to stay on it for long and if I were to try and do anything super fancy I would just lose my balance and fall off. Some disabled people might benefit from an exercise ball but if you have Spina Bifida it can be difficult because balancing often is a serious challenge.
Ab rollers-Ab rollers can be a serious challenge for your core and for most people I would recommend it but if you have a physical disability like Spina Bifida where your stability isn’t that great this piece of equipment might be difficult for you. I have an ab roller but don’t use it often because things that are unstable are difficult for me and what ends up happening is my body gives out and I just end up falling. Planks are enough balance practice for me and I don’t need fancy equipment to challenge my core because I can do that with my own body weight. I practice balance exercises everydayt maintain good stability and have done a good job with it but there is only so much I can improve on and even if I did the ab roller everyday I may see such improvements but nothing signifcant and I am better off doing things that put less stress on my body.
When you are physically disabled working out can be more difficult than if you were abled because you can’t buy the same pieces of equipment they can and benefit it the same way. It is a great idea to get disabled people fitness equipment but if you have no idea what their capabilities are it’s best not to until you find out because there is nothing worse than having to store a bunch of equipment in your closet that you will never use when you could use that space for things you will. If you want to get a disabled person fitness equipment they will use but aren’t sure just ask them but if you don’t want to give to much away you can never go wrong with a yoga mat or workout clothes. I can never have enough cute workout clothes because it’s what motivates me to keep staying active which sometimes can be difficult when you have chronic pain. What fitness equipment do you benefit or not benefit from as a disabled person?
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