Trekking up a mountain on a Nepalese horse, miles away from everything you’ve ever known is a feat that takes a lot of skill, stamina, and fitness. Understatement of the century! Having ridden since the age of five, Max’s horse riding skill is undoubtedly excellent, but what we’re planning is no ordinary hack around the park!
With less than a year until our endeavour, everyone on the trekking team will be embarking on their own personal fitness training and Max is no exception. In addition to endurance riding, Max has a strict physical therapy regime which his Neuro Physiotherapist Andrea Shipley of North London Neuro Physio has devised with him with two aims in mind:
1. To increase fitness and core strength for the trek;
2. To alleviate the pain and discomfort that he experiences on a daily basis due to his Cerebral Palsy.
Andrea comes to our flat in South London once a week to help Max with his exercises. Like all Physiotherapists, she starts by asking him how much he has practised since their last session, and then tells him off for not practising enough. Then they get on with some stretches. Max’s Cerebral Palsy causes certain groups of his muscles to become very tight, particularly in his hands, back and hips – so together, they stretch out those muscles using a combination of physiotherapy equipment and ordinary bedding.
Once Max’s muscles are stretched, we summon his carer, Paul, and take to the stairs. Stair-climbing is a really crucial part of Max’s training as there will be short sections of the trek when he has to dismount the horse, and walk assisted, for safety reasons. With Paul assisting him to the side, and Andrea bringing up the rear, we all process up and down the stairs of the block of flats. The view of London from the top floor almost makes all of this intense exercise worth it – we’re hoping we’ll feel the same about Everest!
Once the stairs have been conquered, and Max has broken a serious sweat, we retreat back to the flat so that Max can do his sit-ups. As usual, Andrea provides support to the unsteady parts of Max’s body so that he can exercise all the other parts. This time, she supports his feet while he does sit-ups on the edge of his bed. Strengthening his core improves his horse riding and stamina as well as getting his heart rate up, which is always important.
Without this supplementary exercise regime, Max’s every day life would be more difficult, and this trek to Everest Base Camp would be impossible. As a wheelchair user, it would be very easy for Max to remain sedentary and become unfit, but having a goal as epic as Everest is providing more than enough motivation to exercise.