The top of a man's bare feet on a wood plank floor.

SCI Workout Consideration #4 – Skin Breakdown

Anyone participating in physical activity can expect to experience skin irritations and injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises, at one time or another.  For most people, these issues are unpleasant and annoying; however, skin breakdown and irritation can be a potentially serious condition for exercisers with SCI.

What Issues Are Posed With SCI? 

In general, the loss of sensation below the level of SCI can make it difficult to realize when skin breakdown occurs. You may not be able to feel when you have a new cut or sore.

Increased friction on the skin from physical activity can lead to skin breakdown. When moving, friction occurs during skin on skin contact and from contact with clothing and equipment. Friction can also occur on areas of the body in contact with prosthetics, assistive devices, and adaptive equipment.

It’s important to note that skin breakdown experienced below the level of SCI injury can put you at serious risk for developing Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD).

There are a number of types of skin breakdown that individuals with SCI need to be aware of when exercising:

Pressure sores, or pressure ulcers, are areas of skin that are damaged due to a lack of blood flow to the area. These lesions are caused when pressure is applied to the skin and not relieved on a regular basis. They can occur from:

  • Sitting or lying in one position for too long
  • Sitting or lying on hard surfaces
  • Improperly fitting prosthetics and adaptive equipment
  • A buildup of moisture on the skin

Untreated pressure sores will gradually worsen and can cause serious complications.

Blisters are raised areas of skin filled with fluid or blood.  Blisters result from friction on the skin when it repeatedly rubs against the body, clothing, or equipment.

Abrasions, or scrapes, are caused when the skin is scraped away when rubbed up against a rough surface.

Lacerations, or cuts, are the result of the skin being cut or torn open.

How to Reduce Risk When Exercising 

To prevent pressure sores:

  • Stay well hydrated. Make sure to drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Avoid sitting on hard surfaces and use a well-padded wheelchair cushion whenever possible.
  • Wear clothing that is well-fitting, moisture-wicking, and appropriate for the activity/exercise.
  • Consider taping or padding areas that are prone to skin breakdowns, such as feet and heels.
  • Make sure all prosthetics and adaptive equipment are properly fitted.
  • Perform pressure reliefs, such as wheelchair push-ups, every 20 minutes.
  • Change position on a regular basis.
  • Secure yourself to equipment to reduce friction.

To prevent blisters, abrasions, and lacerations:

  • Use talcum powder, petroleum jelly, or another type of skin lubricant to reduce friction.
  • Make sure all prosthetics and adaptive equipment are properly fitted.
  • Wear gloves to protect the hands.  
  • Use plastic wheel-guard covers on wheelchairs.
  • Use caution when transferring on and off equipment.

Remember: always check your body during and after your workout for new sites of skin breakdown and pay close attention to areas that are more prone to skin breakdown, such as the hips, sacrum, feet, and heels.


Next Up…

#5 Bone Loss

Further Reading 

NCHPAD – Overuse Injuries in Wheelchair Users

Human Kinetics – Medical Conditions in Athletes With Spinal-Cord Injuries

Exercise After Spinal Cord Injury

Close up of a smartwatch displaying the heart rate monitoring function.

SCI Workout Consideration #3 – Heart Rate

An increase in heart rate is a normal and typical response to exercise. Your heart rate will increase with exercise intensity until it reaches a maximum heart rate based on a number of factors (including age and gender); however, the magnitude of the heart rate response during exercise can vary significantly among individuals with and without SCI.

What Issues Are Posed With SCI? 

Your heart rate response to exercise is directly related to the level of the spinal cord injury.

T7 Injury or Below: Individuals with SCI at T7 or below, typically display heart rate responses similar to individuals without SCI.

Paraplegia: The maximum predicted heart rate for individuals with paraplegia is suppressed. Current guidelines from NCHPAD recommend keeping exercise intensity at or below 70% of your maximum heart rate.

Quadriplegia: The maximum predicted heart rate for individuals with quadriplegia is 100 to 125 bpm. Current guidelines from NCHPAD recommend keeping exercise intensity between 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.

How to Reduce Risk When Exercising 

The most effective way to make sure that you are training in a safe range based upon your injury is by monitoring your heart rate during exercise using an electronic heart rate monitor or by taking your pulse.

The rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale is another way to gauge if you are working at an appropriate level of intensity. The RPE scale can be used alone or in conjunction with heart rate monitoring and is based upon how hard you feel you are working, on a scale from 7 (Easy) to 20 (Very, Very Hard).  The goal is to exercise at an intensity of about a 10-14, depending on your level of SCI.


Next Up…

#4 Skin Breakdown

Further Reading 

Get Moving: Exercise and SCI

NCHPAD – Spinal Cord Injuries

Close up of a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope.

SCI Workout Consideration #2 – Blood Pressure

Blood pressure (BP) is another factor that is directly affected by exercise.  As with temperature, your body has a series of automatic mechanisms that work to keep your blood pressure in a safe range during and after exercise.  

What Issues Are Posed With SCI? 

Spinal cord injury, however, affects your body’s autonomic responses and its ability to regulate blood pressure.  There are two conditions that individuals with a SCI need to be aware of during exercise – orthostatic hypotension and autonomic dysreflexia (AD).  

Orthostatic Hypotension 

Orthostatic hypotension is a drop in blood pressure when in an upright position.

Orthostatic hypotension occurs most frequently when:

  • Changing from a lying position to a sitting position,
  • Changing from a sitting position to a standing position, or
  • Sitting or standing for long periods of time.

It occurs in these positions because blood pools in the legs. Furthermore, loss of nervous system control and muscle function in the lower body and trunk (typically associated with SCI) make it difficult for the body to pump blood from the legs to the brain.

Symptoms 

Symptoms of orthostatic hypotension include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting

If you experience any of these symptoms, lay on your back with your feet elevated until your symptoms go away.

How to Reduce Risk When Exercising 

To reduce the risk of orthostatic hypotension when exercising you can:

  • Gradually increase the pace and intensity of exercise to avoid sudden drops in blood pressure.
  • Get up slowly. Avoid quickly moving from lying to sitting or from sitting to standing.
  • Stay well hydrated before, during, and after exercise.
  • Wear an abdominal binder and/or compression stockings to help move blood from the legs and trunk to the brain.
  • Compression garments increase blood flow to the brain by increasing pressure in the trunk and lower extremities and “pushing” the blood towards the head.

Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD)

Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD), or autonomic hyperreflexia, is an extremely dangerous condition that results in very high blood pressures (up to 190 – 250 mm Hg systolic and 130 – 150 mm Hg diastolic) and is caused by an irritating stimulus, such as a full bladder, urinary tract infection, or pressure sore, below the level of injury. Individuals with a complete SCI at T6 or higher are most susceptible to AD since these individuals lack sensation in the lower extremities.

When irritation occurs below the level of SCI, the body reflexively responds by causing spasms and narrowing blood vessels, resulting in a rise in blood pressure. The body attempts to send signals to the brain about the increase in blood pressure; however, these signals are carried only as far as the spinal cord lesion and stop before reaching the brain.

Since the SCI lesion interrupts communication between the lower body and brain, the brain is unable to detect and respond to the increase in blood pressure. Unless treated, the blood pressure will continue to rise until it reaches potentially fatal levels.

Symptoms 

Symptoms of Autonomic Dysreflexia include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Profuse sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Goosebumps
  • Shortness of breath

How to Reduce Risk When Exercising 

To reduce the risk of autonomic dysreflexia when exercising:

Do not exercise if you:

  • Have a urinary tract, kidney, or other infection.
  • Have a known injury (e.g. broken bone) or wound (e.g. pressure sore) below the level of SCI.
  • Are constipated.

Prior to your exercise session, always:

  • Examine your body below the level of SCI for signs of injury or other potential irritants. Look for things such as pressure sores, bruises, blisters, and ingrown toenails.
  • Empty your bladder and bowels.
  • Make sure your urinary catheter is unobstructed and working properly.

If you begin experiencing any symptoms of AD during your workout, immediately:

  • Stop exercising.
  • Determine the source of the irritant and remove it, if possible.
  • Sit upright to reduce blood pressure.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.

If your symptoms do not get better right away after taking these steps, contact emergency medical services!  Remember, AD is a very serious condition and getting medical care as soon as possible could be the difference between life and death.


Next Up…

#3 Heart Rate

Further Reading 

Complications of Spinal Cord Injury: Orthostatic Hypotension

Factsheet: Autonomic Dysreflexia

Woman out in the hot sun, sweating and drinking water to stay cool.

SCI Workout Consideration #1 – Thermoregulation

Maintaining a safe and consistent core body temperature is critical for our bodies to function properly. In general, the human body is very effective at maintaining a safe internal temperature because it has a series of involuntary mechanisms to regulate temperature.  

For example, if your body temperature rises too high, the body attempts to cool itself by sweating and dilating blood vessels (vasodilation). If your body temperature drops too low, the body attempts to warm itself by constricting blood vessels (vasoconstriction), increasing metabolism, and shivering. These processes of regulating and maintaining a stable core temperature are called thermoregulation.  

As we exercise, our bodies respond to a variety of internal and external factors that impact our core body temperature. The temperature of the external environment, the heat generated by the working muscles, and increased respiratory functions all put stress on our thermoregulatory processes.  

Most of the time, our natural heating and cooling systems are up to the task and our body stays in a safe temperature range; however, certain circumstances, such as exercising in extreme temperatures or certain medical conditions, can result in your body’s natural heating and cooling systems to become “overloaded”. In fact, if your body temperature rises too high (hyperthermia), or drops too low (hypothermia) you can experience consequences such as cardiac arrest, brain damage, and death.

What Issues Are Posed With SCI? 

If you have a spinal cord injury, you are particularly susceptible to hyperthermia and hypothermia during exercise.

A person with a SCI has limited autonomic control (i.e. control of involuntary bodily functions) below the level of injury. Since temperature regulation is controlled by involuntary mechanisms, the mechanisms that your body relies on to regulate temperature, such as sweating dilation/constriction of the blood vessels, and shivering do not occur or are limited. This might also limit the ability to perceive changes in body temperature as well as an individual without SCI, putting you at additional risk for injury.

Symptoms 

Symptoms of hyperthermia (overheating) include:

Symptoms of hypothermia (low body temperature) include:

  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness

How to Reduce Risk When Exercising 

There are several steps that you can take before, during, and after exercise that can help maintain a safe body temperature throughout your workout.

To reduce the risk of hyperthermia (overheating):

  • Stay well hydrated. Make sure you drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Wear lightweight clothing designed for use in warm-weather activities.
  • Dress in layers so you can remove clothing as needed.
  • In extreme heat and humidity conditions, exercise indoors.
  • Make use of fans and air conditioning.
  • Use a cold towel or spray bottle to help you stay cool during exercise.

To reduce the risk of hypothermia (low body temperature):

  • Stay well hydrated. Make sure you drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Refrain from exercising in the extreme cold.
  • If you do exercise in the cold, dress in layers and bring extra clothing.
  • Remember that the extremities (such as your arms, hands, feet, and legs) lose heat quickly.  Make sure to protect your extremities with appropriate apparel such as gloves and warm socks.  

Next Up…

#2 Blood Pressure

Further Reading 

Hypothermia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Understanding Heat-Related Illness – Symptoms

Man using a wheelchair doing a dumbbell curl with a spot from his trainer.

The Top 6 Considerations for a Safe and Effective SCI Workout – Introduction

September is Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Awareness month.  As the month comes to a close, we will focus on the importance of exercise for individuals with SCI and take a look at 6 common conditions to be aware of when exercising to stay safe during your workout.

Benefits of Exercise with SCI

To many individuals with a SCI, the thought of exercising can seem overwhelming and downright scary.  Although exercising with SCI does pose its challenges, regular exercise is very important for the overall health and well-being of these individuals.  Of course, exercise provides numerous benefits to both physical and mental health and offers the additional benefit of improving independence and the ability to perform day-to-day activities.

Research in the SCI population has shown that exercise improves:

  • Respiration (breathing)
  • Muscle strength
  • Circulation
  • Immune system function
  • Body composition
  • Self-esteem
  • Mood
  • Independence and ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL’s)

Likewise, exercise also helps prevent:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Obesity

And finally, exercise reduces:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • The risk for diabetes
  • The risk for heart disease

Fortunately, most individuals with SCI can exercise safely, as long as they are familiar with a few common conditions.

Our Top 6 Considerations When Exercising with SCI

Being aware of a few common conditions associated with SCI that can impact exercise will help you take the necessary steps to minimize your risk so that you can exercise safely.

Staying Safe When Exercising with SCI Infographic
Click on the Image to View Larger

Here are our top 6 considerations when exercising with SCI:

#1  Thermoregulation

#2  Blood Pressure

#3  Heart Rate

#4  Skin Breakdown

#5  Bone Loss

#6  Muscles & Joints

Each day over the next week, we will take a look at one of these 6 common conditions associated with SCI.  We will see how they can impact exercise and outline the steps that you can take to minimize risk and make exercise both enjoyable and safe.

Remember, exercising with SCI doesn’t have to be intimidating or scary, and the benefits of exercise are well-worth the investment!


Next Up…

#1 Thermoregulation

Two hands, one gripping the other around a red area to indicate pain.

Get a Grip: 4 Essential Pieces of Equipment for Resistance Training with Grip Pain & Weakness

It’s estimated that over 1 in 4 adults in the United States experiences some degree of difficulty gripping objects due to pain or weakness in the hands. While gripping difficulties can be due to a number of conditions including fibromyalgia, stroke, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s disease, arthritis is by far the most common cause of gripping difficulties, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that it affects more than 54.4 million adults in the USA. In fact, arthritis is currently the leading cause of adult disability in the US.

Luckily, there are ways for those affected to alleviate pain in the fingers, hands, and wrists, as well as increase grip strength. One of the best ways to reap these benefits is by following a regular resistance training program. 

Though a resistance training program might seem counterintuitive, it can be incredibly effective and only requires a few versatile pieces of equipment. Best of all, this method doesn’t require a lot of money spent on equipment or gym memberships, and can even be completed in the comfort of your own home!

What is Resistance Training?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, resistance training (also known as strength training or weight lifting) is “a form of exercise designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a muscle or a muscle group against external resistance.”

Applying external resistance to a muscle will cause it to contract, leading to increases in muscular size, strength, endurance and tone. External resistance can come in a variety of forms, including dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or even your own body weight.

What are the Benefits of Resistance Training?

Over and over, research has shown that resistance training has numerous positive effects on both physical and mental health for participants of all ages and ability levels.  

According to the Mayo Clinic and a recent study in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, some of the general benefits of resistance training include:

  • Retention of lean muscle mass with age
  • Improved balance
  • Decreased risk of heart disease
  • Reduced resting blood pressure
  • Increased bone mineral density
  • Alleviation of the symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Increased functional independence and enhanced quality of life

As if the benefits listed above weren’t enough, studies also suggest that resistance training provides even more benefits for individuals with arthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions causing grip pain and weakness.

The Mayo Clinic and an article by Wayne Westcott in the Current Sports Medicine Reports state that those additional benefits of resistance training include:

  • Increased range of motion
  • Decreased joint pain
  • Reduced lower back pain

How do I Resistance Train When I Can’t Hold a Weight?

To fully reap the rewards of resistance training, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends performing resistance training a minimum of two days per week. The ACSM also states that “exercise sessions should be performed on non-consecutive days and each session should target each of the major muscle groups.”

This all sounds great in theory, but, in reality it can be difficult to perform strength training exercises when you experience grip pain and weakness. Typical resistance training equipment such as barbells and dumbbells requires significant gripping strength!

Fortunately, there are plenty of other equipment options available that will allow you to strength train with grip pain and weakness. Below, we’ll examine 4 essential pieces of resistance training equipment that will allow you to safely adapt and perform resistance training workouts.

Looking for exercises?  Want tips on selecting and using equipment?  Visit our website at inclufit.com to view our exercise videos, equipment, and training tips.

Essential Pieces of Equipment for Resistance Training

Let’s explore 4 essential pieces of resistance training equipment that you can use to get a safe and effective resistance training workout– all from within the comfort of your own home!

1. Medicine Balls

A medicine ball is simply a weighted ball. They are a great tool for developing upper body strength, as well as performing a variety of functional movements for the upper body and core.

Medicine balls are versatile and are available in a variety of sizes (from the size of a softball to the size of a beach ball) and weights (from 1 pound to 50 pounds).

Traditional medicine balls are firm and covered with a nylon, leather, polyurethane, or rubber exterior.  Frequently, the ball’s exterior is tacky or textured to make it easier to grip. However, even traditional medicine balls with these features can be impossible to use if you suffer from grip pain and weakness.

Luckily, there are several medicine ball options that give those with grip pain and weakness all of the benefits of a traditional medicine ball, without the need for a strong grip.

Let’s explore these options in more detail…

Medicine Balls with Handles or Straps

This style of medicine ball is similar to a traditional medicine ball, but it has either one or two handles or straps. Generally, these medicine balls have a hard, texturized shell.

The user’s hands slide into the straps or handles, making the ball easy to grip and cause less fatigue in the arms and hands, which allows you to exercise longer. These medicine balls provide the option of gripping with one or two hands to allow for both one arm and two arm exercises (if the ball is small).

An image of a medicine ball with handles.
Medicine Ball with Handles

Medicine balls with handles or straps are ideal for:

  • Upper body exercises
  • Abdominal training
  • Exercises involving rotational movement

Soft Grip Medicine Balls

Soft medicine balls have a soft, pliable exterior shell and are typically filled with sand, gel, or a similar flexible material. An added bonus – because soft medicine balls are squishy, they also develop grip strength!

An image of a soft medicine ball.
Soft Medicine Ball

Some soft grip medicine balls are filled with air. The firmness of air-filled balls can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the air. The more air, the firmer the ball. The less air, the more pliable the ball, making it easier to grasp.

If the ball is small, soft medicine balls give you the flexibility of gripping with one or two hands, allowing for both one arm and two arm exercises.

Soft grip medicine balls are ideal for:

  • Upper body exercises
  • Developing grip strength

Ergonomic Medicine Balls

An ergonomic medicine ball has all of the advantages of both a medicine ball with straps and a soft grip medicine ball. Double bonus!

The ergonomic design fits the natural shape of the hand, leading to less fatigue and easier grip, but this style of medicine ball also has a soft, pliable surface like a soft medicine ball. This allows you to use it like a dumbbell but is much easier to hold onto.

The user’s hand slides into the strap, making the ball easy to grip. The strap can be adjusted to fit securely around the hand, which requires minimal gripping strength from the user.

Red, soft ergonomic medicine ball with adjustable strap.
Ergonomic Medicine Ball with Strap

Ergonomic medicine balls are ideal for:

    • Upper body exercises
    • Any exercise that you would use a dumbbell to perform
    • Individuals with severe hand pain and weakness since minimal gripping is required
    • Training one arm at a time
      • Note: If you want to work both arms at the same time, you simply need a second weight and use them just like you would use a pair of dumbbells

2. Soft Hand Weights

Soft hand weights are used much like a dumbbell but are much easier and more comfortable to hold onto. They consist of a soft, pliable shell that’s filled with sand or similar material, and are particularly great for individuals with larger hands that find light dumbbells too small to grip.

Man's hand holding a blue, soft hand weight.
Soft Hand Weight

Soft hand weights are ideal for:

    • Upper body exercises
    • Any exercise that you would use a dumbbell to perform
    • Training one arm at a time
      • Note: If you want to work both arms at the same time, you simply need a second weight and use them just like you would use a pair of dumbbells.

3. Cuff Weights

A cuff weight is typically a nylon sleeve that is wrapped around the wrist or ankle and secured with a Velcro strap. They are most often filled with sand or other similar materials and come in a range of weights (from 0.25 pounds to 25+ pounds).

Cuff weights can be used alone or in pairs and provide a great way to add resistance to almost any exercise without having to hold a weight. They are great for users with conditions such as tetraplegia and cerebral palsy who are unable to grasp because cuff weights don’t require any gripping!

Cuff weights are most often sized in a way that allows the wearer to place them on either the ankle or the wrist. This allows for use in both upper and lower body exercises. Larger sized cuffs are also available to use on the thigh, or with larger individuals, and pediatric sized cuffs are available for children and smaller adults.

Cuff weights are available in both fixed and variable (adjustable) weight versions. Here’s a little more information about each of these options…

Fixed Weight Cuff 

Fixed weight cuffs refer to cuffs that have a specific and unchanging weight.

Black and blue fixed weight cuff with adjustable strap.
Fixed Weight Cuff

The Pros & Cons of Fixed Weight Cuffs

Pros Cons
  • Often less expensive per cuff than variable weight
  • Many users find them more comfortable and conform better to the wrist or ankle than variable weights
  • If you want to increase or decrease weight, you must purchase other cuffs to expand your selection

Fixed weight cuffs are ideal for:

  • Upper and lower body exercises (wrist & ankle)

Variable Weight (Adjustable) Cuff

Variable weight cuffs (or adjustable weight cuffs) allow the user to adjust the weight of the cuff in small increments. The weight is adjusted by adding or removing weighted inserts.  

2 images of red, variable weight cuffs with adjustable straps and metal inserts.
Variable Weight Cuff

These inserts are typically small metal rods or small pouches filled with sand, and can range from 0.1 to 5 pounds each, depending upon the total weight of the cuff.

The Pros & Cons of Variable Weight Cuffs

Pros Cons
  • Variable weight cuffs have the benefit of providing a range of weight options without having to purchase several individual cuffs
  • Often more expensive per cuff than fixed weight
  • Many users find them less comfortable and do not conform as well to the wrist or ankle as fixed weight cuffs

Variable weight cuffs are ideal for:

  • Upper and lower body exercises (wrist & ankle)

4. Cuff Attachments & Handles

Resistance bands and resistance tubing are a terrific way to resistance train and are available in a variety of sizes, lengths, and strengths.

Resistance bands and resistance tubing offer the following advantages:

  • Lightweight and portable. You can use them anytime, anywhere. They are particularly great when you are travelling.
  • Cost-effective. Bands are relatively cheap compared to other fitness equipment. You can typically get a set of 4-6 foot bands or tubing for less than $20.
  • Good for any fitness level. Resistance bands come in a variety of resistances (from XX-Light to XXX-Heavy). There are options that are light enough for beginners or heavy enough for experienced exercisers.  
  • Easily adaptable. The level of resistance is easily adjustable, even in the middle of an exercise. Too much resistance? Just give the band or tube more slack. Too little resistance? Choke up on the band to make the exercise harder.  
  • Versatile. Resistance bands and tubes can be used for an effective full-body workout that challenges every part of the body – upper body, lower body, and core. The possibilities are endless!

With all of those benefits, working out with bands and tubing seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to hold bands and tubes if you experience grip pain and weakness. Fortunately, there are several attachments that will allow you to safely and effectively use bands and tubing without discomfort or pain.  

Here are two great options…

Handles

A variety of handle attachments have been designed for use with resistance bands and tubing. Handles are typically covered with a foam padding, which makes the handles more comfortable and easier to grip. Using handles also reduces fatigue in the hands and forearms.

Pair of Handles
Pair of Handles

Handles are typically attached to the band or tube by one of two ways:

  1. Tying the band or tube to a metal D-ring on the handle. However, this method can be challenging to securely tie the tube or band if you have limited dexterity and/or finger, hand, or wrist pain.
  2. Threading the band or tube through a special “easy-load” mechanism. Handles with the “easy-load” mechanism allow the user to loop the band or tube through the handle and secure it without tying. This attachment method is best for anyone with limited dexterity and finger or hand pain.

Handles are ideal for:

  • Upper body exercises
  • Individuals with only slight grip pain or weakness

Cuffs

A cuff attachment is an adjustable, padded strap that is wrapped around the wrist or the ankle and secured with a Velcro strap. This attachment is a great way to use resistance bands and tubes without having to grip. Cuffs are particularly helpful to those that are unable to grasp and for those with conditions such as tetraplegia and cerebral palsy. The cuff is used just like a handle — but no gripping is required!

Cuff attachments come in a variety of sizes for use on the wrist, ankle or thigh. This versatility allows for use in both upper and lower body exercises. There are also larger sized cuffs available to use by larger individuals and pediatric sized cuffs are available for children and smaller adults. The variety of cuff sizes allows for use in upper and lower body exercises, giving you virtually unlimited exercise options. 

Adjustable cuff attachment on a green resistance band.
Band with Cuff Attachment

Just as with the handle attachments, cuff attachments are typically attached to the band or tube by one of two ways:

  1. Tying the band or tube to a metal D-ring on the cuff. However, this method can be challenging to securely tie the tube or band if you have limited dexterity and/or finger, hand, or wrist pain.
  2. Threading the band or tube through a special “easy-load” mechanism. Cuffs with the “easy-load” mechanism allow the user to loop the band or tube through the handle and secure it without tying.  This attachment method is best for anyone with limited dexterity and finger or hand pain.

Cuffs are ideal for:

  • Upper and lower body exercises (wrist, ankle, thigh)
  • Individuals with little or no grip strength
  • Individuals experiencing severe finger, hand, or wrist pain

Conclusion

The good news?

You can exercise with grip pain and weakness, you just need the right equipment!

With just a few key pieces of equipment, you can get an effective, full body workout at home without spending a lot of money or joining a gym. Best of all, developing a workout plan that includes resistance exercise will help you manage and alleviate symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions that cause grip pain and weakness.

So, what are you waiting for?  Don’t let grip pain and weakness stop you from being your best!

You can find more accessories, bands, and weights in our Strength Shop.

We also encourage you to take a look at our arthritis equipment packages. These packages are carefully selected and bundled to give you everything you need to enjoy a comfortable and effective full-body workout.

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