Squatting with Cerebral Palsy Squatting with Cerebral Palsy

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Thread: Squatting with Cerebral Palsy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Default Squatting with Cerebral Palsy

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    I have cerebral palsy. Specifically, it affects my coordination and balance; I also have excess muscle tone in my calf muscles.

    I'm able to deadlift with reasonable form. I keep a stable, straight back, though some have said my "conventional" looks a bit like a stiff-leg pull. In the past, I trained with a coach, who helped me get from an inability to deadlift to pulling 250 lbs. I never got strong/coordinated enough to squat, however. I took some time off, but have since resumed training and recently pulled 210 for a single.

    My current program is centered around deadlifting and bench pressing, with assistance exercises for each (not SS, but it's similar to what's worked well for me in the past, though I do find Starting Strength to be an invaluable resource). My current plan is to continue increasing my deadlift and leg press until my leg press is 3x10xbodyweight. Assuming that gets me to doing bodyweight squats, I will then start training squats.

    Do any of you have experience training people with cerebral palsy or similar disabilities? If so, what strategies have you used for goals like mine? Regardless of whether you have experience with disabled clients, what strategies would you recommend?

  2. #2
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    Feb 2009
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    Atlanta area
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    Aaron -

    I'm going to ask SSC Nick Racculia, and soon-to-be SSC (I think!) Marie Kunkle, who have experience working with lifters with CP to drop by and weigh in.

    Steve

    Starting Strength on Instagram: “This is Marsha. She has cerebral palsy and has been lifting with her coaches @mariekunkel and Nicholas Racculia at @ironcityathleticclub…”
    Last edited by Steve Hill; 04-26-2018 at 12:29 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Greensburg, PA
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    Aaron,

    Our coaches at Iron City Athletic Club near Pittsburgh have worked with a few folks with cerebral palsy. In most of the cases, the lifters muscles tend towards hypotonia. We have found physical pressure against some of the muscles that are too relaxed tends to help. For example, one of our clients has a helluva getting his lats to contract during the deadlift. Marie and I will jam our fingers into his laps, while using our legs to help him keep the bar on his legs. This helps significantly.

    For the hypertonic muscles, we may need to take a different approach.

    Is it painful to squat? Can you get the bar on your back in the correct position to squat? For any squats you have attempted, is the difficulty more in the eccentric (descent) or concentric (ascent) phase?

    Where are you from? If we can find an SSC near you, we can work together to get you squatting and pressing.

    Marie, thoughts?

  4. #4
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    Apr 2018
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    Bar position isn't a problem. I've done good mornings in the past (both seated and standing). The problem, as far as I can tell, is that I don't have enough strength in lower 3/4 of the movement. I can't stand from a seated position, without pushing off by hand, nor can I descend without losing control.

    I live in Minneapolis, MN.

    By the way, I have a video of my most recent set of deadlifts, if that would help.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2017
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    Greensburg, PA
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    Don't be discouraged because your squats aren't coming together just yet. All of our CP clients started as deadlift experts and were for a long time. But they are all currently squatting in one form or another!

    I would love to see your deadlift video! But a video of you squatting would be more helpful. Are you currently squatting with a standard 45 lbs bar?

  6. #6
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    Apr 2018
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    I appreciate the encouragement. I'm not currently squatting at all, just leg pressing, trying to maintain form and add weight. I'll get some video of me squatting to a box, soon. In the meantime, here's my current deadlift. This was the last set of my last workout.


  7. #7
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    Feb 2012
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    Greensburg, PA
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    Yeah, post a video and we will have a look.

    SSC Bobby Antis is over in Fargo. He's a good guy and his dad is a member of our gym, Iron City Athletic Club. If you reach out to him, we would be happy to work with you and Bobby.

  8. #8
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    Carmel, IN
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaron2686 View Post
    I have cerebral palsy. Specifically, it affects my coordination and balance; I also have excess muscle tone in my calf muscles.

    ***

    Do any of you have experience training people with cerebral palsy or similar disabilities? If so, what strategies have you used for goals like mine? Regardless of whether you have experience with disabled clients, what strategies would you recommend?
    I have an extremely mild case that presents on right side only. SS has helped increase my balance and made my right more normal than ever, as I turn 50 this year. My balance is better than ever. I still struggle with my right hand and arm in the deadlift. Grip strength is not equal between hands. It takes more conscious effort not to let the right hand open up.

    SS has balanced overall muscle development to be more similar bilaterally than I ever have had, even compared to the old Nautilus days.

    I struggle at the bottom of the squat due to balance issues. I tend to miss depth. Carelessness resulted in incomplete squats and excess weight. I have worked on form and able to do 350 lbs with good form and more with depth missed.

    I recommend hypersensitivity to form with CP. It will help with bilateral development and balance. If others are like me, it requires extra concentration to keep some basics like grip and movement equilaterally.

  9. #9
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    Apr 2017
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    Greensburg, PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaron2686 View Post
    I appreciate the encouragement. I'm not currently squatting at all, just leg pressing, trying to maintain form and add weight. I'll get some video of me squatting to a box, soon. In the meantime, here's my current deadlift. This was the last set of my last workout.
    The only thing that will help you get better at squatting is squatting! We have to get you training those motor patterns even if it means starting with a trainer bar and box squats.

    P.S. Verrryyyy nice deadlift! How are your presses going?

  10. #10
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    Apr 2017
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    Greensburg, PA
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    starting strength nutrition camp
    Quote Originally Posted by Hekktor View Post
    I have an extremely mild case that presents on right side only. SS has helped increase my balance and made my right more normal than ever, as I turn 50 this year. My balance is better than ever. I still struggle with my right hand and arm in the deadlift. Grip strength is not equal between hands. It takes more conscious effort not to let the right hand open up.

    SS has balanced overall muscle development to be more similar bilaterally than I ever have had, even compared to the old Nautilus days.

    I struggle at the bottom of the squat due to balance issues. I tend to miss depth. Carelessness resulted in incomplete squats and excess weight. I have worked on form and able to do 350 lbs with good form and more with depth missed.

    I recommend hypersensitivity to form with CP. It will help with bilateral development and balance. If others are like me, it requires extra concentration to keep some basics like grip and movement equilaterally.
    This is so badass!

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