Sustaining any form of serious injury can be terrifying, however, when that injury affects your spinal cord, it can be somewhat even more worrying. This is particularly true for those who have always been active, but now face the prospect of life in a wheelchair.
The good news is that just because someone has a spinal cord injury, this does not mean that they have to give up when it comes to participating in sports. There are numerous sports which are incredibly popular among the disabled community and plenty of opportunities to get involved for fun or competitively.
Sport can be beneficial in so many ways, so it’s a good idea to try and get involved with it in someway, even if you have reduced mobility.
Below are examples of some of the best sports to get involved with following a spinal cord injury
You might think that a spinal injury means that you are not ever going to be able to cycle again, but this really isn’t the case. A popular sport for those who are in a wheelchair is hand cycling. This particular sport has been around since the 1980s and is the ideal adaptive sport for those who have suffered a spinal cord injury. Over the years it has become increasingly popular and is a discipline which features in the Paralympics.
For many it might seem like the idea of wheelchair basketball is a relatively new phenomenon, but it was actually started during 1946 as a way for paralysed war veterans to still be able to take part in competitive and recreational sports. For the most part, the rules are the same as standard basketball, but there are a few adaptions to take into account the use of wheelchairs during dribbling and passing.
Wheelchair basketball has grown over the years and is now one of the best-loved sports within the Paralympics, watched all around the world.
Whilst some people love the idea of a fast-paced sport, there are others who like to take things a little slower and gentler. If this is the case for you, then you might want to see if golf is something that you enjoy taking part in.
The great news about golf is that it is a sport that allows you to play from a wheelchair. It also is suited to those individuals who only have the use of one arm or that struggle to use them both.
Wheelchair dance is a fantastic, versatile, adaptive sport and a great way to stay active and meed new people. The idea of wheelchair dance is that it is all about moving the body to the rhythm that you feel. You can take part in wheelchair dance on your own, or if you prefer, you can also dance with a partner.
The great thing about wheelchair dance is that you can dance to your own style, or, if you prefer you can perform one of the more standard dances such as Latin American.
Everyone knows that swimming is one of the best ways to stay in shape. But perhaps a lesser known fact is that swimming is certainly possible after sustaining a spinal cord injury. Swimming is recognized as being one of the main sports in the Paralympics and has a range of health benefits. It doesn’t create the stress on the body that high-impact sports do and it is also a great workout for the cardiovascular system.
Another benefit of swimming is that it provides you with a sense of freedom of independence and of being able to move around freely, without supportive devices. Something that is truly important for those who feel their independence has been limited since using a wheelchair.
Being in a wheelchair does not mean that staying active needs to be an afterthought. Far from it. The five sports highlighted above are just a few great ways to stay in shape after a spinal cord injury and enjoy the other benefits associated with sport participation, but there are many others that can also be considered, such as tennis, weightlifting and even skiing.
Perhaps a different approach and mindset will need to be adopted at first, but sport is there for all to enjoy.
By John Mills, INSC Magazine