By Seth McBride: For Complete Post, click here…
The first gloves I purchased as a wheelchair user were a pair of half-finger bicycle gloves. You know the type — padded leather palms and a crocheted back. I got them because I didn’t know anything about anything and when I saw photos of wheelchair users wearing gloves, that’s what they wore. But man were they terrible for me. The soft, synthetic leather palms didn’t give me any extra grip, so I struggled to push just as much as when my hands were bare. The stubby half fingers flipped inside out every time I took them off. Plus, they made me look like 1980s Greg LeMond, which is cool for a Halloween costume but not as awesome in most other situations.
It wasn’t until I started playing wheelchair rugby that I realized how much gloves with good grip could help my pushing efficiency. In rugby, most people use rubber gardening gloves to play because they’re cheap and they give great grip for pushing and for catching and throwing the ball. When I got around to trying them in my everyday chair, I was amazed at how much easier it was to push. Suddenly I wasn’t having to expend a bunch of energy clenching into my pushrims to generate enough friction to push — instead I could just push.
Since then, I’ve tried out many different types of gloves, some great, some terrible. I tend to stay away from gloves made specifically for wheelchair users as I’ve found options made for the general public to be more functional and stylish and (sometimes) less expensive — though a recent test of wheelchair-specific gloves from European manufacturer Reha Designs does give me some hope.
Which glove works best varies on what I’m doing, so I tend to have a variety of styles lying around the house. Here are a few of my favorites.