When asked if it’s inevitable that a manual wheelchair user with an active lifestyle will blow out their shoulders, ADAPT Training Vice President Jerod Warf says absolutely not.

“For starters don’t fear being active,” says Warf, whose organization’s clients span from everyday people who want a gym, to those in need of physical therapy, to NFL players and wheelchair rugby Paralympians. “The human body was designed to be active and move.”

Think of the shoulder as a ball and socket joint. “It should move in many directions, horizontally and vertically, or you’re not giving the shoulders what they need,” he says. “Ask yourself: ‘When I’m out pushing my chair, what am I doing to relengthen those pushing muscles?’ You can be highly active, you just need to do supplemental shoulder routines, they’re just like your daily vitamins that fill in the gaps of what you can’t get enough of on a daily basis.”

To help supply these shoulder-saving supplemental routines, Warf has shared the following two exercise cards. One depicts unassisted exercises and the other demonstrates assisted exercises. Additional resources are available at adapttraining.com/adapt-advanced.

Unassisted shoulder exercises:
Assisted shoulder exercises: