Crip Tips: Portray Confidence with Full, Smooth Movements

Getting used to a using a wheelchair is hard. Portraying confidence and competence when using that chair is even harder. 

Here’s the secret: full, smooth movements.

Pushing Using Both the Rim and the Tire

This makes for a more controlled push, especially on slick surfaces.

Start the Push From the Right Place

On flat surfaces, start the push from where your hips are seated in the chair and on steep surfaces start the push as far back as you can without causing the front of the chair to lift.

Lean In

Lean into the push with your body. This gives you more control, speed, and power with each push and will be especially helpful when dealing with inclines.

End the Push Smoothly and Completely

Push the wheel until your arm has fully extended and then release the tire. Let the chair do the work here: don’t push more than you have to in order to keep a consistent pace. The less energy you expend when moving, the better off you’ll be.

Don’t Grab the Wheels

Once you get your chair up to speed, push more with the heel of your palms than your hands. What you want to avoid doing is grabbing the wheel and accidentally slowing yourself down.

Don’t Forget Your Hips

If your chair is built and measured correctly, you should easily be able to steer it with just your hips. Making small adjustments and balance is a great way to deal with rough terrain or sudden inclines.

Keep Moving

See a crack in the sidewalk? Time your movements so you pop the front of your chair over it just as you reach it. Steep curb cut? Speed up, lean forward and attack it head on.

Don’t slow down, don’t hesitate, and don’t stop moving. It’s your chair and your body and you’re more than capable of handing whatever these shitty sidewalks throw at you.

Trust me when I say that it’s the tiny, chin-in-chest struggle-pushes that act like a bat-signal for so-many hapless Good Samaritans who think they know what’s better for you.

By keeping your movements smooth and consistent, you’re giving off an air of confidence and control and you’re going to reduce the number of people who stare or try and stop and help without asking.