Fitness after SCI

When we travel I realise that we have left everything at home! I am referring to our fitness equipment. Fitness after SCI is so important that I have devised an exercise regime that can be undertaken anywhere  – it’s that simple!

Fitness after SCI

Fundraising bought Emily a standing frame very early in her recovery. She schedules time in it most days as it lifts her out of her chair. It stretches her hips flexors, induces a range of motion in her hips, knees and ankles. Emily feels the benefits as she has reduced body spasms, improved digestion, her blood pressure is challenged and responds by regulating itself. Emily has a feeling of wellbeing and is energised after a full hour standing, moving like a cross-country skier in this apparatus. But the standing frame doesn’t travel.

How do we exercise when away from our equipment …we improvise!


Our daily objective is to stretch, weight bare, perform a range of motion for each joint and exercise to induce wellbeing and stamina. Having attended Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) Walk On Program in Lidcombe for several years Emily has established a knowledge of her ability and the confidence to exercise with carers.  Walk On information
To initiate a full program for fitness after SCI Emily requires two carers as most manoeuvres need two people to lift and position. After establishing our lifts, with the emphasis on carer safety, we get into our program.
Exercising after SCI is not difficult it just takes time and resourcefulness. We bought a thick yoga mat but everything can be done on a carpet. We lie Emily flat on the floor and proceed to do yoga stretches. An important baseline is establishing Emily is in charge and instructing us so she maintains control of herself ensuring her comfort and confidence. We have devised a full set of body stretches that compliment Emily lifestyle and daily demands. If you intend to exercise at home and have any queries about appropriate moves or positions consult your attending professionals.
Fitness after SCI

The key to exercise after SCI is prioritising it, enjoying the benefits and having imagination.


Emily weight bears with an ingenious manoeuvre by kneeling by the sofa. Everyone is different with unique needs so it is impossible to be prescriptive as to what people should or shouldn’t do. I am advocating that exercise is do-able anywhere it just needs a receptive attitude and resourcefulness.
Fitness after SCI
I am inspired to tackle physiotherapy when travelling because Emily’s holistic health is consolidated by daily movement encouraging flexibility and motion which is important when paralysed. I advocate that people with spinal cord injury need to continue to treat their body as a whole, continue to expect their body to respond. The thinking is that the spinal cord has to be stimulated to encourage regeneration and recovery. I also subscribe to the thinking that Emily must be fit and readied for any SCI treatments that are in the pipeline like robotics or epidural stimulation therapy.
Emily is no different to anyone else in that if she stops her exercise routine she looses fitness quickly. She is also no different to others in that she enjoys her regular sessions. She finds her own program self motivating which inspires me, as her carer, to devise new and innovative ways to maintain her fitness.
At every opportunity we try to swim. If we can get anywhere near water it is a treat to wallow in weightlessness with additional stretches which induce relaxation and positive pressure relief.
Fitness after SCI
Yes, continued exercise on holiday is taxing but the end result warrants a little labour. Some effort goes a long way and enables us to meet everyday demands with mental and physical robustness. That feels great!
Ready now for our chia seed breakfast and then we are fully energised for our adventurous day ahead.
Home fitness after SCI – see our video – Fitness after SCI