An injury to your spinal cord can occur for a variety of reasons, this could be a car accident, or perhaps an incident during sports.
Many people think that a spinal cord injury is simply never going to happen to them and whilst it is great to remain positive, there is still a chance that it could happen. In no time at all, your life can be turned upside down and you may end up having to change your way of living forever.
What is important to remember about spinal cord injuries is that whilst they can have a lasting impact on your life, they do not always mean that you have to change your life completely. You may need to think about an alternative way to go about many of the things that you like to do, such as keeping active, but it is entirely possible to exercise even if you are recovering from a serious injury to your spinal cord.
The benefits of exercise following a spinal cord injury
You might think that the last thing that you should be doing when you have a spinal cord injury is considering exercise, however, exercise can actually be hugely beneficial to you during your recovery period.
One main benefit is that it can help to ensure that you don’t develop any secondary complications that can occur whilst you are not able to move around as you normally would. Keeping active can help to prevent pressure sores, respiratory issues and other infections.
You may also find that keeping active can help you to manage on going problems such as potential weight gain and chronic pain too. It will also give a boost to your mental health too, helping you to battle issues such as anxiety and depression, which are both common after a spinal cord injury.
Finally, being active will also help you to stay strong too, which will help your overall recovery.
When it comes to exercising after a spinal cord injury, it is vitally important that you keep to the guidelines to protect yourself and prevent any further injury. There are several useful resources online, such as this post by SCI Progress – but it’s essential to always talk to a medical professional before you get started.
According to the guidelines, you should try to aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week, this should contain 2 days at least of strength training. This strength training should be focused on all key muscle groups throughout your body.
Of course, everyone is different and there is a good chance that you won’t be able to match the set out level of exercise straight away. This is why support and guidance is so key in making sure that you do not cause yourself further injury.
Things to consider
One of the most important things that you need to do when it comes to exercising after a spinal cord injury, is to speak to your doctor about your plans. A medical professional is going to be able to help you to work out what is appropriate for you and also recommend the appropriate course of action too.
By speaking to them you will be able to know what is within your capabilities at that time. This will not only help you to plan what you want to do, but it will also ensure that you do not injure yourself further simply by exercising.
Recommended ways to exercise
You might not think it, but there are plenty of different exercises that you can do even with a spinal cord injury.These can be put together in three main categories.
The first is aerobic exercise, which is vitally important for your cardiovascular health. The second are strength based exercises, which will help you to not only ensure that you do not have muscle weakness during recovery, but also that you can perform your daily activities too.
You can also decide to try out flexibility training, which will help you to improve your range of motion, particularly important when it comes to your recovery and getting yourself fully mobile again.
Some of the best forms of exercise that you can perform include yoga, hand cycling, swimming, rowing, weight lifting and using resistance bands too.
A spinal cord injury will change your life, but it is not going to mean that you have to give up on keeping active. In fact, you will probably find that it has never been so important for you to be active and to be building up your strength.