Guide to Wheelchair Racing
Racing wheelchair rollers
Wheelchair racing took a significant portion in the first ever World Paralympic Championships in the 60s. A lot has changed since then. Starting from the inspirations of traditional cycling, today – aeronautical engineering has become a great deal of influence to wheelchair racing.
Wheelchairs that are usually used in Paralympic games are engineered and innovated according to the call of times. Designing these chairs took a great deal of engineering calculations to produce. Making the end product remarkably thin and lightweight is challenging which is why manufacturers resorted to materials that will suffice the needed output. The most efficient metal manufacturers saw that fits the requirement is an aeroplane grade aluminium called the A7 Aluminium.
Although there are other wheels as well that can be used in Paralympics. A great example is the special carbon fibre wheels which were inspired by the traditional cycling wheels. And these apparently dominated the Paralympic games.
Requirements for Participation in Wheelchair Racing
Of course, individuals and athletes who wish to join the wheelchair racing are required to use wheelchairs alone. Also, before one could enter the race, one must exhibit these conditions:
- Leg Length Difference
- Limb Deficiency
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Spinal Cord Injury
- All kinds of musculoskeletal impairments
- Conditions that limit the mobility
Equipment for Disability Sports
Today, there are athletes who have broken sports records due to the technology and high-tech features that are installed in the equipment they use to compete. Ben Rowlings and Hannah Cockroft are only some of the said athletes to cite.
Most of their distinctions are actually credited to the technology in their equipment. These normally include 3D printing of parts and additional features that improves the functionality of the wheelchair.
Tailored to Work with Athlete’s Body
According to the head of the Disability Sports Equipment, Huw Roderick, there are actually wheelchairs that are intended to be personalized and customized provided that these features suits the user’s specific attributes. Also, he stated that rigorous training usually leads to several body changes. These changes result to the outgrowing of one’s wheelchair. And this is where wheelchair designs typically take place.
The whole process is being studied and well-considered to ensure that the wheelchair will not exceed the limits and will only compensate the athlete’s needs and ability.
The sitting position is a very important factor in designing a wheelchair and wheelchair racing in entirety. Care must be taken into grave considerations to ensure the lower extremities of athletes won’t incur secondary injuries.
Individuals with disabilities normally depicts a difficult positioning than a normal and able-bodied person. Apparently, they need to be in a kneeling position with their heads down, arms on wheels, and shoulders in line with the wheel hubs. This position won’t succumb the legs, calves, and thighs to pressure. To allow the proper aerodynamic movement – the legs must be tucked firmly beneath the chair.
Manufacturing and Shipment
Specialized and customized wheelchairs are normally built and manufactured overseas. Hence, shipping is very normal in the industry. However, there are uncertain repercussions shipping may bring along the way. This is mainly the reason why transportation of such wheelchairs and equipment is very challenging. Nevertheless, Invacare and the sole industry that handles these kinds of situations very well know how to handle such things.
Racing Wheelchair Prices
In owning a racing wheelchair, expect to shell out money for the cost is quite expensive. The cost of the overall product is as much as the costs of the design and production. For a clearer perspective, say a carbon fibre wheelchair normally costs £1,500 up to £1,800. In purchasing the whole product, it may require you an average cost of £5,000 in totality.
In actuality, only a few people own these kinds of racing wheelchairs. In fact, only two American athletes showed up with the wheelchairs during the Olympic Games in Rio.
There are actually a lot of people who wants to join wheelchair racing but there are others whom are generally discouraged. The reason behind is that these young ones deem the sitting positioning as a difficult one. Thus, they have to adopt this kind of posture to join the race.
Fortunately, there are companies, such as Invacare, that solve this kind of issue by designing racing wheelchairs that will fit accordingly to the user’s ability and needs. By and large, these wheelchairs have adjustable seats. It allows users to be tilted forward and backward. Foot pedals are adjustable as well that allow the feet to dangle vertically. Moreover, there are straps that will hold your feet and body so it won’t be a barrier when in use.
Nevertheless, it will always be recommended for every aspirant and athlete to exercise and train well, especially if the lower extremities have a low percentage of muscle mass.
Other Facts About Racing Wheelchairs
• Equipment Weight
The heaviest racing wheelchair is weighed at 22lbs. As for the lightest one, it is seen to be carrying a total weight of 13lbs.
• Carrying Capacity
The heaviest weight that most racing wheelchairs can carry is 250lbs. It is assumed that even Mike Tyson or Antony Joshua can elegantly and comfortably ride the wheelchair.
• Average training Distance
In totality, the average training distance varies depending on each athlete. To name one, Ben Rowlings actually have an average distance of 5000 miles annually provided that this is only on his training periods. And this is actually half the distance of Australia to New York.