The Total Gym (TG) is a piece of equipment recognized throughout the fitness community for bodyweight training, functional training, conditioning, and rehabilitation therapy. We are fortunate to have a TG at the Walk It Off facility that was generously donated by the DeHaas Family of Aurora. As you can see in the picture (left), we have one of our Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) clients, Kevin (C5/6 Complete), lying on an angled sled that can slide up and down on a guide rail as the client performs squats. The sled can also be locked in a stationary position. The Total Gym (TG) offers many benefits to a Spinal Cord Injury client because it is adjustable to suit the individual’s physical abilities, needs and exercise goals no matter the level of paralysis. Completing exercises on the TG allows the client to perform movements they would not usually be able to complete, in a safe and controlled manner with the assistance of the SCI Recovery Trainer here at Walk it Off when needed.
Please take a moment to watch this video of a client on the TG.
The TG and the importance of Load-Bearing
One of the main benefits of the TG is the opportunity for the client to complete load-bearing activities using their own body weight. We can increase or decrease the incline of the sled, in turn, increasing or decreasing the percentage of body weight applied while standing on the footplate. With a simple adjustment of the sled incline, either up or down, it increases or decreases the difficulty of the exercise, thus catering to the individual. The TG set-up extends itself to increasing sensory feedback for individuals with SCI. When the client is positioned with their feet on the footplate it creates a closed chain environment. By this we mean that grounding the feet out on a firm surface connects motor messages going to the limbs, and sensory messages that are coming back to the spinal cord.
The TG’s is extremely versatile for the SCI client
Leg exercises can be performed lying supine or prone (on your back or front) or in a seated position and the arms and chest can be incorporated through the pulley system to improve overall muscular strength and endurance. The nature of the TG allows trainers and clients to switch from one exercise to another fairly quickly. The TG can be adjusted to be less weight bearing so the client can work on completing more repetitions of the exercise working on connection and muscular endurance or it can be adjusted to increase weight bearing so the client can complete less repetitions working on muscular strength. Exercises completed in a sitting position will require clients to use their core and stabilizer muscles. A strong core and balance is essential to improve “activities of daily living” that use leaning or twisting, including making transfers easier and more efficient. The TG also produces minimal strain on joints, making it a great piece of equipment for general rehabilitation purposes.
If you are interested in seeing our amazing program in action, or this piece of equipment in particular, we welcome you to call or stop by the Centre. We look forward to meeting you!
Rebecca and Ashley. SCI Recovery Trainers