Stomach Exercises for the Disabled
Having a disability does not prohibit you from strengthening your ab muscles. On the contrary, there are many exercises that are both safe and accessible for this population to perform. Exercising your abs not only contributes the stability of the spine, but can also improve posture and decrease the stress placed on the low back.
To maximize strength, perform two to three sets of 10 repetitions. This should be done two to three times per week.
1. Seated Abdominal Hollowing
This exercise isolates the transverse abdominal muscle, which assists with spinal stability.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit erect in a chair without leaning against the seat back. Draw in your lower abdomen toward your spine. Do not allow your upper abdomen, back, or pelvis to move as you perform. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then relax. Make sure not to hold your breath.
2. Seated Crossovers
HOW TO DO IT: Tie a knot in a resistance band and close it in a door at shoulder level. Sit in a chair 1 to 2 feet away with the door to your side. Sit erect and hold the other end of the band in front of you with your arms outstretched.
Slowly rotate away from the door keeping your arms level. Make sure to rotate from your trunk and not from your shoulders.
When you have rotated completely away from the door, hold the position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. After a full set, repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
Visualize a tray of food resting on your arms. As you turn, do not let the tray slide off.
3. Diagonal Crunch
HOW TO DO IT: Sit at the edge of a chair and interlace your hands behind your head with your elbows pointed out to the side. Slowly lift your left knee as bring your right elbow towards it. This will cause your trunk to flex and rotate.
When you are unable to get the knee and elbow any closer, hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then return to the starting position. After a full set is completed, repeat the exercise with the opposite arm and leg.
If you are unable to lift your leg, just perform the elbow portion of the exercise
4. Seated Resisted Crunch
HOW TO DO IT: Tie a knot in the middle of a resistance band and close it in a door at shoulder level. Sit erect in a chair that is 6 inches away from the door and facing the opposite direction.
Grasp both ends of the band over your shoulders and hold them against your chest . Slowly round your spine and draw your abdomen in as you perform a mini crunch. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
5. Seated Marches with Bracing
HOW TO DO IT: Sit up tall at the edge of a chair with your feet resting on the floor. Contract your abdominal muscles and hold a 2- to 3-pound weight out in front of you at chest level.
Slowly march your leg up, let it down and then alternate to the other side. While doing this, maintain the contraction of your stomach muscles and do not allow your low back to round.
As this exercise becomes easy, slowly increase the weight.
Stop any exercise that is painful. Consult your doctor with any questions or concerns prior to beginning an exercise routine.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise
- American Physical Therapy Association: Clinical Practice Guidelines Low Back Pain