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  • Question about pushing myself in my chair...

    OK, so I bought my chair on my own with no insurance so I got one close to my size and did as much tweaking as I could with the help of all you guys. I think i did a pretty good job. It is a TiLite ZRA 1 with 24 inch wheels and natural fit hand rims...

    Obviously I didn't go through any kind of training in how to use the chair. I tried to research on the internet for anything I could find. Not much.

    I am really having trouble pushing myself around. Sidewalks are murder with their slight slant dragging me to one side or the other.

    Flat indoor areas are wonderful, smooth and level, I don't have any problems there and could push myself forever.

    But out in the real world of hills and slants and bumps and curb cuts that are kind of steep I am a wreak! I can hardly get around and it sucks.

    I will admit that I am weak. For sure that is a problem. But not 'that' weak.

    But I am just wondering if there is something that I am missing. I will be pushing with one arm only for blocks and blocks and having to slow down the other wheel with the ever so slightly slanted sidewalks. It is exhausting. Then same thing in the other direction. Is this normal?

    I guess what I am asking is am I 'that' weak that I can't even push myself down a sidewalk or up a hill? Or am I doing something wrong when trying to push myself.

    It 'looks' so easy when I see other people doing it. It looks like they give one little push and they fly.

    My other issue is really steep short curb cuts I think I am going to tip over backwards. Scary, don't know what to do about those.

    My wheels seem to spin nice and straight... One front caster is a little sticky but only in it's turning direction not it's rolling around...
    Help the newbie!
    Thanks,
    Oli

  • #2
    How long have you been at it? I would say it took six months between getting my first wheelchair and being able to do a full normal day in an inaccessible world with panache.

    Since you're on this forum, I'm going to assume you are one of the many folks who never got to go to rehab. We have special challenges - learning to do things other people were taught to do. I learned a ton from watching internet videos: everything from proper push styles to curb hopping and stair climbing and floor to chair transfers. My favorite site for that doesn't exist anymore, unfortunately, but I'm sure you can find alternatives out there.

    Being really, really good at wheelies was the core skill. I don't mean the pull backwards, push forwards cheaty thing, but being able to pop one instantly at any time, even while moving forward. That'll get you up and over most of life's obstacles, and it's the first step to hopping curbs.

    Anyhow, if you put in more details about what kind of ability you have to work with, I'd be happy to regurgitate the advice that applies to you that helped me through that time.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Oli View Post
      OK, so I bought my chair on my own with no insurance so I got one close to my size and did as much tweaking as I could with the help of all you guys. I think i did a pretty good job. It is a TiLite ZRA 1 with 24 inch wheels and natural fit hand rims...

      Obviously I didn't go through any kind of training in how to use the chair. I tried to research on the internet for anything I could find. Not much.

      I am really having trouble pushing myself around. Sidewalks are murder with their slight slant dragging me to one side or the other.

      Flat indoor areas are wonderful, smooth and level, I don't have any problems there and could push myself forever.

      But out in the real world of hills and slants and bumps and curb cuts that are kind of steep I am a wreak! I can hardly get around and it sucks.

      I will admit that I am weak. For sure that is a problem. But not 'that' weak.

      But I am just wondering if there is something that I am missing. I will be pushing with one arm only for blocks and blocks and having to slow down the other wheel with the ever so slightly slanted sidewalks. It is exhausting. Then same thing in the other direction. Is this normal?

      I guess what I am asking is am I 'that' weak that I can't even push myself down a sidewalk or up a hill? Or am I doing something wrong when trying to push myself.

      It 'looks' so easy when I see other people doing it. It looks like they give one little push and they fly.

      My other issue is really steep short curb cuts I think I am going to tip over backwards. Scary, don't know what to do about those.

      My wheels seem to spin nice and straight... One front caster is a little sticky but only in it's turning direction not it's rolling around...
      Help the newbie!
      Thanks,
      Oli
      Give yourself some time man, it gets easier.

      Comment


      • #4
        I can walk short distances so I am not in the chair full time. Only when I leave the house which is still not very often at all. I mostly slink around home and am a bit afraid to leave.

        Once I got my chair I trained my Service Dog to walk next to it and that was really fun (especially because my dog was so perfect)(and no, he can't pull the chair, he is too small). My husband pushed me around Home Depot and I thought life was going to be SO much easier. I pushed myself around HD and was having a ball because it was the first time I had left the house without any pain. It was almost a high.

        Since I have always avoided museums like the plague and my husband loves them, I agreed to go to my first museum. I decided we should park a little ways away so we could cruise up and down the main drag sidewalk and window shop and get some tea at the coffee shop and such.

        That is where my problems started. It never occurred to me that the side walk would be slightly slanted (for rain drainage). That was a killer. I felt completely helpless going up hill. I tried and tried until I pinched a nerve in my back doing it. Downhill was easier except for the slight slant dragging me towards the road every millisecond.

        So the nice smooth curb cuts I am fine with. The really steep ones I have basically just got stuck and leaned forward so I wouldn't fall backward and my hubby came to the rescue and pushed me up. I hate feeling so helpless.

        Anyway, before I start describing every little thing.... Is there any set of videos that really shows this stuff?

        I am working on wheelies. I am doing them with the couch behind me because I am terrible at them and apparently must be doing them totally wrong because I can get up there but only balance for a second. I am working on them though...

        I just feel clueless and weak and even more helpless than I did before. Which was pretty helpless.

        I was thinking of taking the chair and my dog to a running track and the local collage and just going around and around to get my arms stronger.... That still doesn't help my weird problems with anything slanting sideways...
        Oli

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree give yourself time there are lots of videos for navigating curbs and such as was pointed out and you could get some dumb bells to workout with. but carpet and outdoor surfaces are going to be harder but in time you will build yourself up and it will not be so hard. When I am pushing I tend to grab the push rims about even with my back rest that seems to give a good amount of room to push. If your sidewalks are slanted enough then that may be the cause problem you are speaking of. Learning to pop and ride a wheelie for a distance will cover a lot of situations. If there was a member near to where you live you might could learn a lot from them in a short time. Since you are new to this make sure you have the anti tippers on at first. Once you learn to do wheelies they will need to come off but till then not a bad idea. You are most likely seeing people that use chairs full time and may have been in them for years so yes it can look almost effortless.

          Comment


          • #6
            Yeah those steep curb cuts can be quite difficult, just remember momentum can certainly be your friend when getting up them. I usually try to line up straight with them from a distance and try to get a decent amount of speed going and it usually gets me up them, or at least past the most steepest part.

            Good Luck.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm just learning too...couple of things I've noticed.

              I've got a Quickie II, with arm rests that swing back out of the way. Since I spend most of the day at work, the arm rests are usually down so I can sit at my desk. When I wheel myself around, the arm rests cut down on the amount of wheel I can grab...therefore I go a lot slower and have less control. I put the arm rests back, and I can grab a lot more wheel...lots easier.

              I've also got "knobby" tires...really great for traction, but hard on the hands. I usually wear leather gloves when I'm going more than 100 feet or so. The Quickie also has "hill climbers" on the brakes...they keep me from rolling backwards. Trouble is, I had to take the "anti-tip" wheels off the back, so I could maneuver into our van. Steep hills are still a "tip over backward" concern.

              I also need to build strenght. I've noticed (from the soreness afterwards) that it takes a different combination of muscles to turn the wheels than what you would normally use. A couple laps a day around a track would be a great idea. We've got a one floor big square building at work, and I'm going to try to get in a couple laps around the hallways.

              Even on level floors, I find I tend to wander to the right...which is strange, because my left arm is weaker. Getting everything stronger will probably sort it all out.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Oli View Post
                So the nice smooth curb cuts I am fine with. The really steep ones I have basically just got stuck and leaned forward so I wouldn't fall backward and my hubby came to the rescue and pushed me up. I hate feeling so helpless.
                There is no shame in backing up steep inclines. That's what I do...
                ____________________

                "We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
                - Barack Obama

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by willingtocope View Post
                  I've got a Quickie II, with arm rests that swing back out of the way. Since I spend most of the day at work, the arm rests are usually down so I can sit at my desk. When I wheel myself around, the arm rests cut down on the amount of wheel I can grab...therefore I go a lot slower and have less control. I put the arm rests back, and I can grab a lot more wheel...lots easier.
                  Unless you need the arm rests for some reason, ditch them. I haven't had them on a chair in at least 20 years.
                  ____________________

                  "We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
                  - Barack Obama

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hey Olli,

                    I had the same problem with slanted curbs up until yesterday, when I got my new Quickie. Does your chair have camber? If not, see if there is some way to get 3 to 6 degrees of camber on it. My DME told me camber would help with the slanted curb thing, and two days of experience tells me he probably hit the nail on the head with that one. I opted for 3 degrees of camber to keep the chair as narrow as possible, and it seems to be enough.

                    Like you, I'm still figuring out wheelies. It's definitely a question of training, mostly. I went to full time chair use about eight months ago. At first I had a hospital-grade chair and I thought wheelies would be impossible in it. Turns out that's not true. The trick to a wheelie, in any wheelchair, is to put your hands behind you (about where your backrest is) while leaning slightly forward. Depending on your chair's center of gravity, just bowing your head might be enough. Then, if you can, stretch your thumbs forward across your pushrims, and press slightly downward as you push. This will only give you a few seconds, but you'll be moving forward with your casters in the air, which should be enough to conquer many obstacles. I still haven't figured out yet how to keep moving forward like that once I have to move my hands to push again, though. If anyone has any insights on that, I'm listening.

                    Random things that I have found helpful (and don't ask me why): because I have spasms, I usually tie the Velcro strip on my chair in front of my legs instead of behind. Somehow this makes wheelies easier. I also wear fingerless biker's gloves with rubber pads on the palms. Better grip equals easier propulsion. Oh yeah, high pressure tires help, too. If you have those, or any other kind of pneumatic tires, check that they're both fully and equally inflated.

                    Hope this helps.
                    Last edited by Saranoya; 04-02-2011, 03:33 PM. Reason: Edited to add remark on tires

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      O, you need to get with some of the wheelers in your area. Perhaps a sports team or something like that. I'm sure they would check out your chair for efficiency and offer some really good advice.

                      Don't force it, you don't want to rip the rotators and such. Like the above, take it easy and don't be too hard on yourself.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My husband is in a sip n pff PC, so I have no advice Oli.
                        But I wanted to tell you to give yourself credit for what you have done so far.
                        It is great that so many here are able to give you hints and experience.
                        Last edited by LindaT; 04-02-2011, 03:42 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I've found that changing my COG made almost all the difference in my wheelie ability. Now I can pop them forward/backward, 360 and am training myself to pop while moving forward (starting with 1/2" board and moving up as I train more). I had my COG at 2.5 and thought that would do it- I now have it at 3.5 and it's perfect for me.

                          I almost always go up hills/ramps backwards. It's SO much easier and you can really lean into the power phase of the stroke because I'm not worried about tipping over backwards. Worse that could happen would be I just started rolling down the incline-forwards. I can recover from that a lot easier.

                          I've learned in the past week of wheeling outside, that 1st street sucks, 2nd is okay and 3rd is a dream. Also, the Kroger parking lot leans really bad to the left. Experience will prepare us and working out will strengthen us.

                          Also- good gloves have helped me tremendously. Instead of heating up my hands on the rims- I just push my palm flat onto the rim and let friction do it's thing. I can steer while going downhill very fast by simply pushing my flat palm onto the rim because the gloves protect me. I would recommend a pair.

                          Another thing I do for those slanted sidewalks of Pain Pain Pain- switch between going forward and backward every so often. Gives each arm a chance to rest. Also, letting hubbs give me a push every now and then makes him feel useful and gives my arms a chance to recover.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Think of it this way... from the time you took your first steps as a baby until the first time your toddler self ran full speed down a hallway without falling probably took a year or so. You had to practice the motions, develop the strength, and eat a lot of falls along the way. We just don't remember it - we can only see it as we raise our kids.

                            Wheeling is the same way, only complicated by lack of ability.

                            Push technique is important. If you imagine the push rim as a clock, viewed from the side of your chair, you start 11 or 12 o'clock, than push 2 with your arms, 3 with your torso/head movement if you're in a hurry, then RELAX. As your body comes back up, your arms ride back up in a relax motion to the top of the wheels again. This will stop you from looking like an actor who plays a wheelie poorly or a basketball player, and save you a lot of energy. Save that push-pullback-push for sprinting.

                            I had amazing balance, so I realize wheelies won't come as quickly to everyone as they did to me, but I think the most important thing is getting over your fear of falling backwards. I tossed myself backwards until I fell on my couch a few times, got a feel for it, but whatever works for you. COG, a good wheelchair, that stuff helps but I could sit and watch TV in one in my hospital wheelchair. Nicer chairs with better COG just made it less work. I practiced an hour a night for a few nights until I could hang onto it for 20 minutes straight, then move around. The first time I fell unexpectedly was after I learned to move backwards in a wheelie and was so thrilled with myself I stopped paying attention. What I learned was that concrete floors are hard, but there's not far to fall!

                            When I wanted to learn curb hopping (going forward full speed, popping into a wheelie while riding forward up and over whatever obstacle you are hopping, leaning forward to pull the back of the chair over) I did it all on flat ground first. I set up somewhere with a strict demarcation line and just ran myself at it with the goal of riding a wheelie with my casters 5" or more off the ground before I hit it. I did that for a few days until I could hit it every time, THEN went out to try some real bumps and curbs with a friend.

                            I'm progressive, so I had been crutching for years before all this - in a very real way, I had already been dragging my body weight around, I came with strong arms. Don't hurt yourself, build up at a speed you're comfortable with. Arms weren't meant to pretend to be legs, and nothing in most people's lives strengthened the right mucle groups for that stuff. Don't expect it to be instant, budget it all some time every couple days.

                            Next year you'll be scoffing at how impressive people find what you are doing to be. =)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oh gawd, the memories... Rehab and popping a wheelie over the LINES in the cement... then the falls outta the chair while in public... But those days are over, sit and watch a quarter of football now, hang in there Oli you'll get it..I know all my kids and grandkids have got into the chair and tried it, wheelies all-around.

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