If you have a temporary or permanent disability and need to start using a wheelchair, you want to make sure that you use it properly to reduce your discomfort. While you can simply sit in the chair and start using it, you are likely to develop some arm, wrist, shoulder, and elbow pain at some point. After all, you will need to begin using your arms extensively instead of your legs. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to reduce your discomfort, like the following.

Retain Pressure In The Tires

If you have ever driven a car with low air pressure, then you may have noticed that it is harder to propel the vehicle in this state. Basically, the tire flattens against the road and this creates more friction and drag. This happens with bicycle tires as well, and it can occur with your wheelchair. Since you are propelling the chair with your arms, you can see how this could put a great deal of strain on your muscles.

So make sure your wheelchair tires are properly inflated at all times. You want to look at the correct pressure listed on the side of the tire and inflate them to about 75% or 80% of the pressure. This is similar to the way that you would keep your car tires inflated to reduce the chances of them bursting or blowing out. 

Keep in mind that under daily use, your wheelchair tires will lose about half of their air pressure over the course of one or two months. This means you should be checking pressure at least once a week and even more often if you start to feel your wheelchair dragging. You can use a digital tire gauge, like the ones sold for either vehicle or bicycle tire use to test the pressure. If the pressure is low, use an electric air pump to fill the tires.

Use Short Arm Motions

Most people will get into a good rhythm when moving their wheelchairs along, and they will often gain quite a bit of speed as they start moving. While this rhythm is natural, it requires long and sweeping strokes and a lot of pressure on the wheels. This can easily cause muscle strain and fatigue, and it can also lead to tendinitis, especially in the shoulder. 

You want to instead use short hand movements in a small arc when propelling the wheel. Use minimal pressure and a slow and steady pace to move. 

It sometimes helps to wear fingerless wheelchair gloves to keep friction between your hands and the tires at bay. They also keep your hands from slipping on the wheel, and this also prevents muscle strain.