I’ve always been mystified by super fit people; all of those crazy sporty types who run marathons, have 50 burpees done before breakfast and whose Instagram feeds are a collection of sweaty selfies and announcements of PBs. I didn’t get it.
However, when I suffered from my spinal cord injury, which resulted in me having to use a wheelchair, things changed and I had to start using exercise as part of my recovery process.
My physiotherapy involved a lot of different activities and sports sessions ranging from archery tennis and table tennis, and I soon learned to love being more active.
At the hospital I also bumped into a group of girls who played basketball who invited me along to join them. Despite having not played since primary school, I absolutely loved it and have carried on the sport and still play today.
It was the first time I had had a proper laugh in months and I have made a fantastic group of friends out of it.
I realise how much I took my body for granted before and now a huge motivation for me to get active is that is helps me focus on something aside from my injury, keep myself busy and just have fun and have a laugh with my friends.
The most difficult challenge is actually getting there, however. It is a nightmare navigating the buses and tubes in London in a wheelchair, which is frustrating as it often means it takes far longer than it should or demotivates me to go. Although it can be hard, it is so important to make the time for it as it has really benefited my recovery. There has been a great support system beyond the sport and it has really helped me mentally and physically.
Aside from basketball, I also try to swim and go to the gym and am hoping to take up diving soon!
For women in a similar situation as myself, the most important thing is to actively try to make time for exercise – actually getting out there and moving is key. Being active is really social and enables you to talk to and meet people in similar situations and gain support that goes beyond the sport. Basketball, for me, is about having a laugh and enjoying yourself. I would recommend it to anyone else going through something similar.
If you’ve been inspired by Ruth’s story, find out how to get started with Wheelchair basketball.