Adaptive Athletics Powering You Forward
Adaptive Athletics & You: Powering You Forward
I had just turned 30, was a staple in every boot camp class, ran a 6:50 mile (not bad for a 200-pounder) and was gunning for my first mud-obstacle run. After a quick bicep and tricep workout on 7/4/11, I hit the trail for some miles. After a loud pop, I was stranded on the ground on a hundred-degree day. For an hour, I was helpless and alone.
An MRI confirmed that my L3-L5 lumbar discs had essentially blown out. After narrowly avoiding surgery, I was left, with among other things, one leg that is significantly shorter than the other. No more running, no more jumping, no boot camp. No more fun?
Fortunately, advances in medical supplies and technology have led to an onslaught of specialty Adaptive Athletics equipment, turning almost every "can't" and "don't" into a "can" or a "do." The growth of specialty equipment and Adaptive Athletic leagues has given me -- and those with even greater challenges such as loss of limb -- new avenues for socialization, confidence and fitness.
The variety of Adaptive Sports is simply amazing -- spanning from table tennis leagues to highly competitive wheelchair archery, wheelchair racing, sled hockey and power soccer. To broaden appeal and accessibility, several governing bodies have formed to ensure Adaptive Athletics are safe and gratifying. The American Collegiate Society of Adaptive Athletics, for instance, was started by a 14-year-old with cerebral palsy who wanted to ensure that young adults continue to access Adaptive Sports after high school.
Satisfy the Need for Speed
To support Adaptive Athletes, innovators like Invacare have developed specialty aluminum racing wheelchairs for top-speed on the track and MJM International has created an all-terrain wheelchair to get you back on the trail. While this purpose-built durable medical equipment (DME) maximizes speed and freedom, small medical supplies can make a big difference, too. For instance under doctor guidance, I relied intensively on the Adjust-A-Lift Heel Lift to offset unequal leg lengths and equalize foot strikes in the hopes of correcting my debilitating hip rotation.
Supplies for Adaptive Athletics can encompass more than overcoming limited or impaired mobility. A myriad of aspiring athletes and weekend warriors, for example, have questions about stomas and sports. Fortunately, stoma specialists, such as Hollister and Urocare, have products that mean swimming, saunas and even jogging aren't off limits for ostomists. For instance, UroCare's Uro-Bond III Brush-on Silicone Adhesive is formulated for moisture- and perspiration-resistance. This means that urinary and ostomy supplies, catheters and even breast prosthesis can be secured, giving athletes the confidence to power forward.
In addition to securing stoma supplies, several products have been developed to discreetly protect stomas whether you're poolside or about to hit the locker room. After a quick dip, C&S Pouch Covers' Quick Dry Ostomy Pouch Cover absorb excess moisture form a wet pouch. When the last goal is scored or the barbell's been stripped after the third set, Dry Pro's Waterproof Ostomy Cover keeps ostomy sites dry and bacteria-free within pools, spas and showers. Hollister has a few additional tips and insights on stoma safety/health for ostomists new to Adaptive Sports.
Mind on Your Body, Body on Your Mind: Adaptive Yoga
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, noted yoga scholar and father of modern yoga, famously said, "If you can breathe, you can do yoga." This notion has helped guide the emergence of Adaptive Yoga courses nationwide because the most vital piece of Adaptive Athletics equipment is... you.
Regardless of your ability -- one of the most sought-after Adaptive Yoga teachers has been paraplegic for the last 34 years -- there is a place for you in Adaptive Yoga. Whether simply experiencing the majesty of ujjayi (victorious) breathing from your wheelchair or the freedom of chakrasana (wheel pose), yogis are quick to point out: there is no perfect pose, only what's perfect for you. However, this flexibility (pun intended) within yoga practice opens the door to aids, such as foam blocks, that support those new to a posture, or help deepen the experience of the posture with a teacher's help.
While day-to-day medical supplies can help you adapt to sports, Adaptive Athletic supplies can be pricey for some. Recognizing this, several government, industrial and community groups offer scholarships and grants. Select manufacturers even provide low-to-no-cost equipment for those wishing to be brand ambassadors -- folks who positively promote brands and products at events.
Hobbling down the path to recovery, I've used my fair share of adaptive tools to adjust to new gym routines, physical therapy and Ashtanga Yoga. These aids have helped me cope with impaired mobility and the psychological impact it has on well-being. Although Adaptive Athletic equipment has become more advanced -- and even more accessible -- authentic effort, courage and inner-strength are what help you adapt the "cant's," "don'ts" and "won'ts" into, "can," "did" and "will."
To a life full of vitality!
Paul Garcia, Author
7910 South 3500 East, Suite C
Salt Lake City, UT 84121