The Benefits of Stretching and Exercising for Wheelchair Users


We all know the benefits of stretching before a workout and performing everyday activities.

Stretching is especially important for people who use wheelchairs.

We do not gain the benefits that come the natural stretches that walking provides.

Benefits include reduced muscle tension, increased circulation (especially crucial for us!), increased range of movements, increased blood flow to various parts of the body, and increased energy levels from the improved circulation (Cosman, 2017).

Consider adding stretches to part of your morning routine and evening routine.

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Young disabled woman exercising in a park. Photo by Jennifer Frankfurter via

Upper extremities

Exercising your arms should be the first step to any well-balanced stretching routine. Wheelchair users have an increased risk of shoulder injury due to overuse.

There are several well-illustrated exercises in Stretching Exercises for Wheelchair Users. These types of exercises are simple to perform and do not require any assistive equipment.

Here are a few videos with a ideas on how you can do stretching:

“It is important for people who use their arms for mobility to spend the time stretching their shoulders to limit pain. It is just as important as doing strengthening exercises to prolong shoulder health.”
Kristin McNealus, DPT, MBA

Lower extremities

Stretching out you’re your quads and hamstrings are essential to any good stretching routine. The Hip Flexor Stretch is a critical component of your stretching routine.

Wheelchair users are at risk of developing serious conditions from contracted muscles, such as plantar fasciitis (a condition making it difficult to place your feet flat).

Since we do not actively stretch our muscles and provide blood flow to our lower extremities by walking, we need to be vigilant about stretching.

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Woman using a wheelchair at the ocean. Photo by Chris Benson via

Adaptive Yoga and Whole-Body Routines

Better posture decreased stress, and increased circulation (Cosman, 2017) are just some of the benefits that come from stretching.

Many places now offer Adaptive Yoga such as Mind Body Solutions, that provide one-on-one coaching, ability-based yoga and more.

Tiphany Adams, a personal coach and fitness expert, has a great YouTube video, Simple Stretches Yoga Tiphany, modeling different stretching exercises.

When considering options for a healthy lifestyle, incorporating stretches is an essential component of healthy living.


Adams, T. (2017, May 3). Simple Stretches Yoga Tiphany [Video file]. Retrieved from

Cosman, J. (2017). The Amazing Benefits of Stretching. Retrieved from

EVERY Body Fitness Online (2016, Dec. 26). Hip Flexor Stretch [Video file]. Retrieved from

Mind Body Solutions. (n.d.).

Stretching Exercises for Wheelchair Users. (n.d.). 

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Carmen Slatton

Carmen earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a double minor in Sociology and Human Resource Management from Mary Baldwin University. Her Masters of Teaching and post graduate degree in Educational Leadership come from Liberty University. Currently, she is pursuing her Masters in Professional Writing at Liberty University while working as a writer, educator, editor, and Graduate Writing Coach at Liberty University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two children. Their family enjoys traveling, attending Broadway shows and studying. Carmen particularly enjoys learning about other cultures and engaging in any conversation that moves society forwards towards a more inclusive community for everyone.

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