Sports were everything to me throughout my life. I was a varsity tennis player, softball player and cheerleader. I thrived on the water and particularly loved wakeboarding and body boarding. I was a certified aerobics instructor who worked with active senior citizens on their fitness. I loved the gym and cared a lot about my body.
I became a quadriplegic when I was playfully pushed into a pool at my bachelorette party (bad timing) and broke my neck. I have a spinal cord injury and am considered a C6 quadriplegic (broke the 6th vertebrae down). When the accident happened, I had no idea what I’d be able to recover. Hell, I couldn’t even scratch my nose. I have no finger or core/ab function and partially paralyzed triceps. My shoulders, biceps and upper back are very strong though. I am a Quad because I have impairment in 4 limbs. I’ve recovered some strength obviously!!
Here is how I workout with such limited function.
First things first. I use these gloves from Active Hands to grip free weights and some other weight equipment.
I use these weight gloves from amazon sometimes as well.
Weight plates are a great way to build upper body strength and help me with my balance. Because my function stops at my chest, I have pretty much no core. This helps activate whatever I might have
My husband loves this one 😒
I also do CrossFit at Hammer Driven Fitness which is an all abilities gym operated by an awe chick who is also a wheelchair user. She adapts different workouts for me and this is something my husband and I can do together.
Now onto sports!
wheelchair rugby (aka quad rugby or Murderball) is an extremely competitive, full contact sport that you must be a quadriplegic to legally be allowed to play. 4 people per team on the court at a time. Each player is evaluated by a physical therapist and given a point value based on their function. .5 is the lowest and 3.5 is the highest. I’m a 1 playing as a .5 because I’m a girl. 8 point allowed on the court per team at one time. Objective is to rollthrough your goal with possession of the ball. Meanwhile, people are ramming their chairs into yours and trying to stop you.
Handcycling is another awesomz sport that’s completely adaptable for a quadriplegic. There are so many gripping aids, adapted gear shifters, and adapted break options. They even make power assist for handcycles
waterskiing is also SUPER fun. You get placed in kind of a bucket seat and 2 able bodied skiers are beside you to help you up. Many are able to do it without the assistance, buuuut…I need it. I hold onto the line by using the inside of my elbow with one arm and the backside of my wrist with the other arm. Once I’m up I’m free to go!
Surfing is near and dear to my heart. I grew up at the beach and the ocean was my life. Thanks to organizations like Life Rolls On and Ocean Cure, I was able to get back on a board. I need an able bodied person to push me into a wave then I can paddle and ride it in on my tummy. It’s a blast.
There’s a bunch of other sports like snow skiing and tennis that quadriplegics can do but I haven’t had the opportunity to try them. I played tennis for 22 years and it’s my dream to do it again. Sadly, sports chairs like tennis chairs are about $3,000.
People think that quadriplegics just don’t do anything. Those that have arm function often do a lot. Working out isn’t just something we do to look good. It’s our lifeline to independence. In rehab, my arms would tremble violently as I used them to brace myself while sitting on the mat. Now it’s nothing. Fitness is not about being better than someone else..it’s about being better than you used to be.