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3 Easy-To-Do Power Wheelchair Stretches

September 13, 2012
Stretching while sitting in a motorized wheelchair is often endorsed by senior mobility experts. When done properly, seated stretches maintain muscle flexibility and increase range of motion.

The following three stretches, provided by fitness and exercise professionals, are designed to help ease tightness and tension in muscles of the neck, upper back, shoulders, and legs. These chair exercises are ideally suited for power chair users, but may just as easily be performed from a typical hardback chair or a manual wheelchair.1

Important Safety Notes:                                                                                           

  • Consult a physician before starting any exercise program.
  • Lock power chair wheels, secure brakes and turn the power off.                  
  • Always remain within your comfort zone and proceed slowly.
  • Stop immediately if there is any pain: Stretching should never hurt.

3 Types of Seated Stretches for Power Chair Users

Chin to Chest Stretch – loosens muscles in the back of the neck

  • Sit upright, with arms relaxed.
  • Slowly lower the chin toward the chest.
  • Breathe naturally and hold the stretch for a few seconds.
  • Slowly raise head up until looking straight ahead.
  • Repeat, according to medical advice.

Shoulder Rolls – loosens muscles in the shoulders

  • Sit straight up in the chair with both arms relaxed.
  • Shrug both shoulders upward and slowly roll them back and around. Repeat.
  • Then, slowly roll shoulders forward and around.
  • Repeat, as advised.

Foot/Ankle Rotation – loosens muscles in the lower leg

  • Sit comfortably in the chair.
  • Raise one leg up and out, until the foot is slightly elevated.
  • Slowly rotate the foot in a gentle, circular motion.
  • Return leg to its relaxed position. Repeat with other foot.

Sources for more information on seated stretches:

"Exercise for Frail Elders"; Elizabeth Best-Martini, (recreational therapist) & Kim A. Botenhagen-DiGenova (fitness instructor) Published by Human Kinetics, 2003

"Stretching for Life: Four Minute Stretching Routines"; Dr. Benjamin Griffes (Masters in Phys. Ed.; Doctor of Chiropractic) Published by ProStar Publications, 2002

Centerworks Pilates: "5 Exercises for a Foot Strengthening Fitness Program" Aliesa R. George(Gold-Certified Pilates Teacher & Certified Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Leader) Accessed online - June 2012

If you’d like to learn more about maintaining your independence and freedom of movement with a power wheelchair, or wish to explore other useful Hoveround products and accessories, please call 1-800-542-7236. One of our skilled mobility specialists will gladly assist you.

1Physical abilities differ among individuals. Not every individual will be able to accomplish every movement as described. Talk with a doctor before engaging in any exercise regimen. Adherence to medical advice will help minimize the risk of injury and/or other complications.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. All information is general in nature and may not necessarily apply to every person and every situation.

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