As we speak, Claire Lomas is on the final stretches of her cycling challenge to raise money for Spinal Research following a horse riding accident that left her paralysed from the chest down. As a campaigner for solutions to spinal injuries, Claire is an avid supporter of Spabreaks.com’s Accessible Spas, and took a little time out to explain why finding a sport has been key to her rehabilitation …
The rehab exercises that I mentioned in my first column, such as floor work are really important for when you start recovering from a spinal injury, and it’s vital that you don’t stop doing them, because it isn’t something that you just get better from, and then everything is fine. A lot of complications can occur, and those basic elements will help to minimise them.
That said, they are pretty boring, and because of the nature of floor exercises, they do remind you of your injury. So once you have a little more confidence, I highly recommend finding a sport that you enjoy, depending on your ability. Before my accident, I did competitive horse riding. When I tried it again afterwards I couldn’t manage it to the level I was used to, and nothing made me more aware of my injury. So I decided to look at other sports.
I have a hand bike, as well as a Functional Electrical Stimulation bike (FES) with electric pads that attach to your legs to work the muscles, and it’s brilliant for improving circulation, building muscle, and increasing bone density. It also reduces the risk of pressure sores. I wouldn’t be without my bike, and of course it has been instrumental in my upcoming cycling challenge this summer!
I also ski. It was something I had always wanted to do, but hadn’t done since I was a child, but after my injury I decided to have another go. There is a real sense of freedom with it. Learning was a nightmare, but I don’t feel any sense of disadvantage, in fact, I am faster than a lot of able bodied skiers and ski to a high level! Learning was a nightmare, I was always falling over – much more than you would normally, and at one point I set off like the clackers with no control! I use one ski, and it really works the core. What’s also wonderful about it is that you come in at the end of the day feeling tired, like you would normally after a day of being active, which is a wonderful feeling!
Most importantly though, it really is great fun!
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