A different way of getting things done: exercising with Erb's palsy

Keeping fit is a massive part of everyday life for millions of people around the globe, but when living with a disability, adapting certain exercise techniques without guidance or having the confidence to hit the gym can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the internet and growing online communities means that people who may have previously felt unsure about how to maintain or improve their physical health can easily find top tips and inspiration.

The following four fitness fanatics demonstrate how their Erb’s palsy doesn’t hold them back from being healthy, keeping active and loving their workout:

1) Shanna - @run.lift_fit

Shanna, 21, is a fitness and health enthusiast who offers insights into exercise and nutrition with a focus on motivation and positivity. She’s a track athlete who is passionate about weightlifting, and regularly posts demonstration videos on how to carry out certain exercises correctly.

Living with Erb's palsy herself, she has posted inspiring content about living with the condition. She says: “I get a lot of messages from worried parents scared about their child’s future and if they will have a normal life. As a person who has had this condition for 21 years and who has met so many incredible people with this condition, I can say anyone with Erb's palsy can live a normal life and nothing can hold us back.”



2) Paula Celik - @call_me_paula

US-based Paula Celik is a great person to follow if you’re looking for work-out inspiration and ideas on how to adapt exercises for a brachial plexus injury. She posts regular pictures of her fitness journey, including transformation pictures detailing how she’s achieved such amazing results.

Paula invites people to message her if they have any questions about Erb’s palsy or fitness, and she’s not too shy to open up about her insecurities. Paula says: “Growth comes with so many things. Pain, joy, tears, laughs, doubts, fears, failures, and successes. Flowers will grow through anything in search of the light, in search of what makes them bloom.

“Choose to keep growing and allow yourself and those around you to breakthrough the areas thought to be impossible. Be persistent and fight for your goals. Find the light and bloom to be your best self.”

3) Zoe Otey - @zoeotey

Zoey Otey, a 23-year-old from Texas, documents her passion for fitness with regular updates on Instagram. Posts like this one describe how her Erb's palsy means she has to try out different techniques in the gym. She says: “I realized how different my right shoulder looks at the top of the movement than my left one. It still amazes me how different my #erbspalsy side is from my left mechanically. The best way for me to do bicep curls is while bracing my elbow on the inside of my thigh so that my arm doesn’t fly out to the side trying to complete the movement.”

She’s definitely a good person to follow if you’re looking for adaptive workouts, plus she regularly uses the ‘erbspalsywarrior’ hashtag, which is a must-follow for more tips on fitness.

4) Joe Hughes - @joehughesboxing

Joe Hughes became a professional boxer in 2010 after 70 amateur fights. Despite being told he would ‘never be able to run in a straight line’, he is living proof that the condition does not have to stand in the way of your fitness goals. He told the BBC: “Most people would think you've got Erb's palsy, there's no way you can possibly be successful in a sport such as boxing and I just want to prove that yes, you can.

"As long as you're willing to put the work in, you can definitely achieve it."

Joe’s Instagram page is full of training videos like this, which could provide some inspiration if you’re looking for a challenge in the gym.


5) #adaptiveathlete

If you’re new to following hashtags, ‘#adaptiveathlete’ is a must-follow for anyone with Erb's palsy who is looking for workout tips and fitness stories. With over 80,000 followers, it’s a great way to keep up to date with the latest posts from this growing online community, dedicated to inspiring anyone who may be looking to try out adapted workouts

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