When most of us become quadriplegics, we eventually see one thing happen — our paralyzed muscles begin to deteriorate, and that includes the muscles in our abdomen. This is when the “quad gut” rears its ugly head — one of the most unattractive aspects of having a cervical spine injury. What our bodies are doing is pushing our organs too far forward, and this can be totally unflattering. In fact, this is one of the most feared conditions out there among all quadriplegics.

I myself had to seriously come to terms with this over the last year.

It all began with a new wheelchair. My custom seating wasn’t transferring great to the new wheelchair, so I went back to the seating clinic to get the real deal kind of adjustment. As I suspected, I was slouching too much in my wheelchair. I wanted so badly to have a smooth silhouette, but no matter how much weight I lost, the seating in my new wheelchair wasn’t right. The slouching needed to be fixed.

I was worried it was finally time for my abdomen muscles to give way to my organs inside. After all, I had been paralyzed for over 20 years and was nearing my mid-30s — aging plus an aging spinal injury spells nothing but bad news. But thankfully I was dead wrong. I was just on the wrong track to finding a solution for my sudden gut problems.

As it turns out, my seating in my new wheelchair wasn’t exactly right. Because of this, I felt like I was sitting too straight and needed my backrest slightly adjusted back, which is what caused my sudden quad gut issues. The surprising solution was to get rid of this dialed-back backrest setting. Putting it back upright and giving my back more lumbar support, specifically the upper part of my back, was the combo that finally made the gut go away (or suck back in).

Wow, who would’ve thought? Having my backrest too far back was causing me to slouch and made my stomach look extra large. Thank Goddess I found a solution, a real workable solution.

What are your tricks for preventing and eliminating “quad gut?”