How-to: Sit for endless hours

By the time Thursday morning at 6AM rolls around my body is audibly grumpy with me. If I could imagine it speaking it would probably say something like:

You better not fold me back into that wheelchair. Do you know how many 90 degree angles are involved in sitting in a wheelchair? TRY COUNTING THEM SOMETIME! And while you're at it, try counting HOW MANY HOURS you make me sit like that for! You are now in your 20's and you've been doing this everyday for the past two decades - you do that math!

...Sorry body, but there isn't really a choice for you.

Aaron Fotheringham takes wheelchair sitting to the xtreme!

Sometimes I get dull aches and pains in my hip and in the upper part of my femurs when I have been sitting for too long. At worst I am actually afraid that I will fracture something if I suddenly move out of position! My bones will give me a sharp jolt, like a reminder hey, we're quite comfortable like this. Don't you go moving around now! It wasn't until very recently that I had the nerve to twist my upper torso around in my seat; the first time I did that I felt something pop in my back I was horrified and filled with dread. What just happened? Did I just break my back? I've never popped my back before! After consulting with a friend about what "cracking your back" feels like, I was relieved to know that the little 'pop' I had felt was... normal. 

"What? You're tired? How are you tired? You don't even need to do anything, you just SIT all day!" How many of my readers have been asked this question by baffled friends and family? Usually I am far too exhausted and don't even know WHERE to begin with my response. How would non-wheelchair users ever understand what it takes to constantly be sitting upright, knees and hips bent? Would they understand that budging even a little out of our seats could end up in a fall or worse an injury? And even though most wheelchairs are fitted to ensure growth space - that wiggle room doesn't provide much liberty to unfold from an 8-hour workday of being rigid. 

Needless to say, after this work week is done I am looking forward to collapsing into bed as I do at the end of every week. I love those first few minutes when I stretch. It's relieving, re-energizing, and in an odd way makes me feel happier. When I was younger I used to pretend that the sensation I was feeling whenever I stretched was me actually.. "growing" every time I did it. 

Stretching in a wheelchair:
  • For younger kids, if possible, the school day should be adapted so that there is time spent out of the wheelchair. Whether it's sitting on the floor with the class, getting out of the chair during recess, or participating in gym class, or having physical therapy sessions at school it's important for younger kids to maintain as much mobility as possible
  • Many wheelchairs have the ability to recline, tilt, even stand-up! If it's appropriate see if that's not possible for you. Also, if you have these capabilities - make sure that they are actually used from time to time, otherwise gears and switches can get stuck from years of not being used. I used to only use my wheelchairs recline ability when I had a long leg cast, but I've come to learn that it's handy to use even when I don't have a fracture
  • Footrests that extend or swing away help "free up" space to move around, even if it's just to swing your legs back and forth
  • The internet has loads of upper body stretches and exercises that you can adapt to your own physical abilities or work with a physical therapist to come up with others
  • My jay J2 gel seat cushions have been a LIFE SAVER  
  • Usually if I am at my desk and my wheelchair securely locked, I take off my seat belt. I know that this doesn't seem like much, but being able to move forward and away from the back of my wheelchair seat has given me a couple of extra inches of free space to move around

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One Response to How-to: Sit for endless hours

  1. Thank you very much for sharing your article! This is very useful and informative :)


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