Strength training can be hard enough for any athlete but especially for those who compete with a disability. Training with the kBox or the kPulley allows adaptive athletes to optimise their strength training and make the same gains as their able-bodied training partners and is already used by several successful Paralympic athletes.
Amputee athletes specifically, whether they have upper or lower limb amputation, require adequate core strength, postural endurance and stability to compensate for the imbalance of missing limbs. Balance can be especially important for leg amputees. While most athletes will compete and train with prostheses, these don’t provide the same support and flexibility as natural limbs. Those participating in upper body strength sports such as powerlifting require a greater level of core strength as they don’t have their legs to provide a base of support. Exercises such as the kneeling glute thruster and the standing core twist using the kPulley are ideal choices to add to a core strengthening repertoire.
Explosive power is a key factor for any athlete but especially those who don’t have a complete set of leg muscles to propel them or are using prostheses. Flywheel training assists with explosive and eccentric strengthening which is imperative in sports involving sprinting.
Athletes also need to consider proper muscle balance to prevent injuries, use of the kMeter feedback unit can help gauge symmetry of workout and muscle strength.
Flywheel training with the kBox is more stable than using a traditional barbell when athletes have a decreased base of support or are using prostheses for training. The kBox and kPulley provide a variety of grips and handles as well as a harness, making adapting exercises easy. This is especially useful for athletes with either a single or bilateral arm amputation, allowing them to use a harness for squats instead of holding a barbell or dumbbells.
Disabled athletes are more prone to injuries such as rotator cuff tears and biceps tendonitis, especially in wheelchair users. Research has shown that 75% of manual wheelchair users develop shoulder injuries and accelerated degenerative changes in the shoulder joint. The anterior shoulder muscles and pectorals can become tight, meaning there’s a need to strengthen the external rotators, upper back, posterior shoulder and scapular muscles. Flywheel training and especially eccentric overload can help facilitate preventative measures to try and avoid overuse injuries.
The kBox has already been applied by Paralympians including Anna Jochemsen (Dutch ski racer) and Ali Jawad (British powerlifter) among others, showing the versatility of flywheel training for sports that focus on either the upper or lower body.