Most people think that just because they are in a wheelchair that they no longer need to worry about posture. Heck, most people that are in a wheelchair give up on life and think they don't need to worry about their health at all. Unfortunately, this is not the way you want to approach or look at life. Just because you are in a wheelchair it doesn't mean that your life is over. Sure, you are going to be restricted and not able to do some of the things that you used to be able to do, but you have to look at it like this: a wheelchair opens you up to new experiences that you otherwise would have never got to take advantage of. Whatever situation you are facing, you need to understand just how important proper posture in a wheelchair is.
Proper posture in a wheelchair will not only reduce undue stress on your body, but it'll help you maintain comfort while also improving your overall maneuverability of the wheelchair. And, being able to properly maneuver your wheelchair will be key to help you get around and living a more independent life. How does one go about improving or maintaining their posture when they are in a wheelchair?
Stabilizing That Pelvis
You might not realize it, but your pelvis is a crucial part of the foundation of your body. In fact, it could be considered the foundation of the body. And, this is exactly where you need to start. You need to make sure that your wheelchair seat is supporting and stabilizing your pelvis. Check the size of the seat. Make sure that the depth of the wheelchair seat allows you to sit all the way back, with your weight shifted evenly throughout your thighs and buttocks.
The correct width should stop your pelvis from sliding side to side or twisting. Sliding and twisting are two motions that you want to avoid at all costs because they will not only damage the skin, but they could potentially lead to spinal alignment issues. Sometimes the angle of the seat can play a crucial role in the stabilization of the pelvis as well. All of these actions can help reduce or completely eliminate slipping, sliding, and twisting.
Stabilize The Curves Of Your Spine
Did you know that your spine has three natural curves? That's okay because most people don't. In fact, who would? Your spine is supposed to look like a straight piece of bone, right? Well, not technically, but that is another story. What you need to know is that your spine has the natural curves and if these curves are not properly supported, they are going to cause your body to enter into abnormal positions. This is going to eventually lead to discomfit and the potential for long-term damage to the spine.
What you want to do is start by making sure that you are sitting upright in the wheelchair. Once in this position, bring your shoulders back while ensuring that you are not slumping or leaning side to side. This is the position that you should be maintaining to align these natural curves. If you are having a hard time holding this position, you might need the assistance of a wheelchair seat cushion.
Supporting Your Feet
Proper posture in a wheelchair isn't all about supporting your back and spine. It is also about supporting your feet as well. Even though you are in a wheelchair, your feet still hold the responsibility of supporting some of your weight while also stabilizing your pelvis. Simply put, insufficient foot alignment is going to throw the entire body out of whack. You need to start by checking the height and position of the footplates on the wheelchair. You want to make sure that they are adjusted to the corresponding position that you need.
The correct height for you should place your hips and knees at right angles while also ensuring the weight is evenly distributed. If your feet are too far out in front of you, it is going to cause your pelvis to tilt, which will eventually lead to slouching, excess pressure, and potentially permanent damage. If they are tucked too far back, it is going to push the pelvis the other way and alter the curvature of your back, which is also no good.