Creating a Comfortable Wheelchair: 7 Ideas to Improve Your Experience

Aches and discomfort are common for people who use wheelchairs, but that doesn’t mean you have to live the pain! Often, you’ll find that subtle differences like switching out a clothing choice or elevating your feet a bit can give you a much more comfortable wheelchair setup.

And this isn’t just about being comfortable in the moment. Responding to your body’s needs will help prevent back pain in the future and help you get through your day with fewer interruptions – but of course, the increased comfort’s not bad either.

Here are our top 7 tips to help you create a comfortable situation that will last you through the day:

  1. Lap Support

If you’re working on a computer, reading a thick book, or doing any other activity that requires you to carry something on your lap for an extended time, you might be surprised at how much a lap pad can help you.

Methods and products to elevate what’s in your lap can improve not just your upper leg comfort, but your neck and back stability as well. When you spend a long time hunched over something, you could be putting the natural curves of your spine in an unstable position.

This forces the muscles in your back to support you in your hunched position. When you’re able to sit up straight, though, your spine will support you without as much effort. This will save you some aches and pains throughout your day.

  1. Footrest Adjustments

If you don’t already have a footrest on your wheelchair, now could be the perfect time to try one out. People who are concerned about wheelchair comfort can increase their wellbeing just be elevating their feet. So, go ahead and explore your wheelchair footrest options!

And if you do have a footrest but haven’t adjusted it since you got it, you might have some luck with a good adjustment. What manifested as leg and back pain could have been a less-than-ideal footrest height.

The right footrest height can help you work on your wheelchair posture so you can sit in a way that protects you from putting too much pressure on your body.

  1. Back Support

External lumbar support is a great way to keep your back in its natural curves. You might think back support is just for people who are already experiencing back pain, but it’s also an excellent method of pain prevention.

Contrary to popular sayings and misguided wisdom, you don’t want your back to be as straight as a ruler.

From the left-right perspective, maybe. But your backbone has natural curves moving forward and backward along its length, and it’s most stable when those curves are in the right position. Cushions and even rolled-up towels can help support that stable position and prevent muscle aches in your back.

And if you’re already experiencing back pain, use that to guide you toward what you need! Pain can be an important messenger of what’s wrong. Feel the location of your aches and give that area a little extra support.

  1. Extra Padding

Another way to help out your back is from below.

Extra padding on your wheelchair’s seat can provide both direct and indirect comfort. You’ll be able to feel a difference right away, as you’ll be sitting on a surface that’s likely less hard than your usual one, but that’s also firm enough to give you the support you need.

And over time, you might realize that a specially designed wheelchair seat cushion can lead to fewer instances of back pain. It’s a gift you can give yourself, both for now and for later.

  1. Comfortable Wheelchair Clothes

When you’re choosing your outfit for the day, you can help yourself out by noticing pieces that might rub against each other (and you).

If you’ve got clothing hardware of any kind, like zippers, you might want to try positioning them away from the surface of your wheelchair or making sure they aren’t made bulgier by other items of clothing.

Notice what materials of clothing tend to rub you the wrong way and avoid those when clothes shopping in the future. And if you love a certain item that’s uncomfortable against the edges of the seat, try wearing it in a different way that’s more exposed to air.

  1. Remember to Stretch

If you can, try subtly changing up your position every now and then. It can get easy to stay in the same position for a while, especially if you’re focusing hard on something, but this might lead to aches and lack of blood flow as time goes on.

You can avoid this by going through your favorite stretches (anywhere – legs, back, arms, or neck) and doing simple motions like crossing and uncrossing your legs.

  1. Wheelchair Accessories

For those who’d like a wheelchair upgrade that can help bring convenience and comfort into their lives, wheelchair accessories can be a game-changer. Think cup holders, magazine holders, and special armrest cushions.

This is comfort in more ways than one. When you give yourself these amenities, you’re making your daily tasks and activities a little easier. And you’re also preventing the need to reach around in ways that can cause pain later on.

Having things handy is a great way to live.

Let’s Get Comfortable!

Getting and staying in a comfortable wheelchair position can sometimes feel like more work than it ought to be, but simple products like cushions and footrests can work wonders to help you out. When you’re sitting in nearly the same position for long periods of time, these small adjustments to your stability can make a huge difference.

So next time you feel aches or irritation from sitting in your wheelchair, try one or more of these options to make your experience better. You deserve it!

And for more excellent tips on taking care of your health, personal life, and more, check out our other articles!

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