The best way to combat the winter blues is to get out and enjoy the snow. The best way to overcome a disability is to stop dwelling on what you can’t do and focus on what you can do.
So here is how I play in the snow thanks to my fantastic adaptive devices.
Skiing– for skiing I use outriggers, which are forearm crutches that have small skis fitted to the bottom. Just as I use my crutches to hold the weight off my bad leg to walk the outriggers allow me to hold the weight off my bad leg to ski. I am accentually skiing with my arms. I lean all my weight over the outriggers as I slide down the hill. My skis remain flat and weightless. When I turn the outriggers with my arms my body swings though the turn with them.
I chose this method called four-tracking last winter when I was trying to return to skiing. Whether I am sitting at work, walking, relaxing or sleeping one of my struggles is where to put this painful left leg that really severs no other use than to be in my way. So I didn’t go with three-tracking figuring my left leg would once again just be in the way. This past weekend, I was so inspired by an above knee amputee skiing that I popped off my left ski and gave three-tracking a try. The four tracking limits where I can ski, the amount of time I can ski and causes immense stress to my wrists, something a full time crutch user can’t afford. So my goal is now to switch over to three tracking. Unfortunately, I decided I was invincible and chose to ski the longest run on the mountain my first try. This severely fatigued my leg and about a quarter of the way down I was falling every few turns. My frustration became high; my wife offered to go get my other ski, but my pride kept forcing me back up for another few turns. Next weekend I will be back at three tracking until I am zipping down the black diamond trails with my family.
Snowshoeing–for snowshoeing I use my Sidestix forearm crutches that I walk with daily. Sidestix make snowshoes that attach to the bottom of the crutches. The snowshoes allow you to walk through deep snow or on hard pack snow. They work very much the same as the snow shoes on your feet, providing a larger area to distribute weight to prevent sinking and cleats to prevent slipping. I snowshoe basically the same as I walk with crutches, using my good leg and the crutches; my bad leg goes for the ride. I didn’t snowshoe for a long time, but it was a hilly rolling terrain and for the first time snowshoeing on crutches it was a workout. I experienced a priceless sense of freedom to be out exploring in the snow and I cannot wait to get out again.
With both skiing and snowshoeing I might not be conquering extreme terrain, but I am out there focusing on what I can do, finding new ways to have fun and enjoying being in the snow. There are many Adaptive Sports Foundations out there. If you have a disability and would like to find a way to get out and enjoy the snow find an adaptive sport foundation near you. You just might be surprised with the wide range of disabilities they can work with and what you can accomplish.
Don’t dwell on what you cannot do. Focus on what you can do and find new ways to do the things you love.
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