Tuesday, 16 April 2024

    Parkrunning with paraplegia

    George Poniatowski lives with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, which impacts his ability to walk, Park Run Push reports.

    When George was learning to use a manual wheelchair his GP suggested he join her at Torrens parkrun in Adelaide to improve his technique and make new friends, and 114 parkuns later he hasn’t looked back.

    “When I started at parkrun I was struggling with maintaining my physical mobility,” says George. “My ability to walk with anywhere near a normal gait (step or stride) was hampered by my Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. This led to a walking speed of less than 1km/hr and an increased risk of stumbling, tripping and falling.”

    “My disability is mostly concerned with extreme stiffness in my legs. The main treatment is exercise, massage and stretching plus pharmaceuticals to relieve the stiffness. I generally walk in an awkward, slow stumbling gait similar to a very old or drunk person. Walking sticks assist me to walk.

    “I tend to use a manual wheelchair instead of walking with sticks for longer distances.

    “My GP does Torrens parkrun and she personally invited me to try a ‘parkrun push’ when I was getting used to my manual wheelchair. She explained what was involved and directed me to the parkrun website and how to register.

    “Taking part in parkrun in a manual wheelchair provided the opportunity to go much faster than my 1km/hr walking pace and helped increase my cardiovascular health.

    “I do 5km, 7km and 10 km pushes in the wheelchair for fun and recreation. I occasionally do the 7km push to the gym, a 90 minute gym session and the 7km push back, weather permitting. I have seen a huge increase in my speed and endurance going for a push in the wheelchair,” George notes.


    ‘A parkrun push’ (Park Run Push)