This is an area that I believe to be more problematic for congenital amputees than individuals that had their amputation due to an extreme trauma.
This area of the upper body will generally only cause you problems if you solely strengthen your chest and/or play wheelchair sports which are heavily dominant towards the muscles in the frontal plane (i.e. chest, triceps, quads and hip flexors). In the link, I talk about ways in which you can correct some of these problems. The diagram below shows the results are from being dominant in the chest, quads and hips results in the start of thoracic kyphosis.
Lower back stiffness
To follow on from the blog on legs, having weak glutes (bum) muscles as an amputee is going to lead down a very slippery slope, causing tightness in the hips, overuse of the quads (thigh muscles), tightness of the lower back and excess belly fat and/or weak abdominal muscles. The worst-case scenario will cause an anterior tilt of the pelvis (backside protruding out more so than normal and stomach bulging) causing lumbar lordosis which is shown in the picture above. Another cause of lordosis is from trauma, the most common cause being whiplash to the cervical spine (the neck).
Quadratus Lomborum (QL muscles located in the lower back) tightness is caused by sitting unevenly and/or bad posture, sleeping on one side or hip hiking during walking which may be the case for some amputees.
*Do’s and don’ts when stretching the muscle tissue of the QL. It’s not a good idea to foam roller your lower back. Instead, use a yoga stretch called the pigeon to stretch not only the hips but also the lower back. You will stretch the other back by reaching to your opposite side to the leg that is in front and vice versa for the other side.
PS: If you found this article helpful and you would like me to write you a training programme suited to your needs. Get in touch.
These include among others:
Chest press (leg amputees with dumbbells, arm amputees with dumbbell and wrist or ankle weight used on impaired side, quad using wrist or ankle weight on both arms) or alternatively modified press-ups.
Shoulder press or dumbbell raises (same as above)
Lat pulldown (narrow and wide grips) or bodyweight exercises
Triceps (variation to suit impairment)
biceps (same as triceps)
lower back (back extensions, supermans)
Myofascial release (foam roller and/or tennis ball) – chest, upper back and shoulders
Mobility and flexibility: scapula retractions, halo, push press, rotator cuff work
These are just some recommendations.
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