Wheelchair resistance band exercises will improve strength to make everyday activities easier to do.

Resistant Band Wheelchair Exercises

by Robin Reichert

Being confined to a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t exercise and stay active for years to come. Performing resistance band exercises in a wheelchair will not only help you to stay flexible, it will also tone and strengthen your entire upper body. Resistance bands, which are lightweight and very flexible, can be used anywhere. Check with your doctor and consult your physical therapist before starting any new exercise program. Start slowly and do only as many repetitions as your doctor recommends.


Preparation is essential for a successful resistance band exercise. Make sure that your knees are bent at 90 degrees and that you are sitting up tall in your chair. Put on the brakes to prevent the chair from moving while you exercise. Warm-up your muscles with some light stretching before using resistance bands for strength training.

Chest Press

The chest press with a resistance band works your chest muscles, arms, shoulders and upper back. Wrap a resistance band around your back just below your shoulder blades. Grasp each end of the resistance band in your hands. Turn your arms so your palms are facing down. Pull the resistance band as you extend your arms straight out in front of your body. Hold the stretch for two seconds and then return to the start position. Try to keep your arms close to your sides throughout the exercise.

Upper Back

Strong back muscles can help you prevent back pain. The lateral pull-down exercise will strength your upper back, shoulders and arms. Grasp each end of a resistance band in your hands at shoulder level. Stretch your arms up near the front of your head and avoid locking your elbows. With your palms down, extend your arms out from your shoulders and pull the band downward to chest height at the same time. Return to the start position and repeat.

Arm Exercises

Biceps curls with resistance bands can help you develop stronger muscles. You can wrap a resistance band around one arm of your chair if it has arm rests. You can also hold each end of the band in your hands. Take up any slack in the band by wrapping it around your hand a little more. Place one hand in your lap and then curl your other arm, pulling the resistance band upward toward your shoulder to work your biceps. Switch arms and repeat the exercise.

About the Author

Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images