Adaptive Athletics Powering You Forward
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
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 biceps and triceps workout on 7/4/11, I hit the trail for some miles. I heard a loud pop, and then I was stranded on the ground alone on a hundred-degree day. For an hour, I was helpless.
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" and "do." The growth of specialty equipment and Adaptive Athletic leagues has given me -- and those with even greater challenges such as the loss of a 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 example, 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 example, after my injury in 2011 and under a doctor's 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 often help more than overcome limited or impaired mobility. A myriad of aspiring athletes and weekend warriors have questions about stomas and sports. Fortunately, stoma specialists, such as Hollister and Urocare, have products that help patients with ostomies participate in swimming, saunas, and even jogging. 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 stoma supplies designed for optimal securing during activity, several products have been developed to discreetly protect stomas even when you're poolside or about to hit the locker room. After a quick dip, C&S Pouch Covers' Quick Dry Ostomy Pouch Cover absorbs 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 in pools, spas, and showers. Hollister has a few additional tips and insights on stoma safety/health for patients with ostomies who are 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.
One of the most sought-after Adaptive Yoga teachers has been paraplegic for the last 34 years. Regardless of your ability 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 that there is no perfect pose, only what's perfect for you. 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 my well-being. Although Adaptive Athletic equipment has become more advanced and more accessible, authentic effort, courage, and inner strength are what help you change the "can'ts," "don'ts," and "won'ts" into, "can," "did," and "will."
To a life full of vitality!