Why Pants Matter for Paraplegics

Reading time: 3 minutes

You may not have thought that you would need to give much of any thought to the pants you buy, but here I am writing about it because there is some thought, more than style, that paraplegics should have when buying pants.

Here’s the thing, and this will we fairly quick, it comes down to just a few things, personal sensibility, potential effect, and style.

What we’re looking at in pants, and actually socks and shoes as well, are the seams and high contact points. If you’ve ever worn tight clothes or taken a nap and had your face on some wrinkles in the pillow sheet, then you’ll know the effect of seams and other things such as back pockets.

When you sit down practically the entire day in a pair of corduroys, you may find later that night to have stripes all along your legs where they were touching the seat.

That may be okay for a few times or for certain cases, but in general, those in wheelchairs should have a keen eye for the construct of pants in order to avoid anything uneven.

The main reason is that this could cause a pressure sore. When I wear socks, they’re compression socks, and they leave marks, so I have to either adjust them throughout the day or make sure to take them off early in the day. I’ll talk more about socks later. Be aware of creases in your pants and avoid letting them bunch up beneath you.

Depending on your level of sensitivity, you may find through experience that certain pants are uncomfortable. I have enough feeling that I can tell when my cushion needs to be blown up, deflated, or the pressure needs to be distributed differently. Along with that, I can tell if my pants are the right or wrong kind.

For me, and probably for you, even if you don’t have feeling, I aim for smoother pants, with either no back pockets or back pockets that are in the pants (like chinos) and not attached to the back like they are for jeans. Even chinos have a button, so I’ll always aim for pants with no back pockets. It is possible to take off the button if it really bothers you and you really like the pants.

I was inspired to write about this when I wore a pair of corduroys and felt terribly uncomfortable all day because of both the lines and the external back pocket.

Most pants have the main stitching on the sides, but if for some reason the seams are in the center of the thigh on both sides, I advise avoiding those.

One last thing to think of is how you wear the pants. My waist is rather small, about a 27 or 26 maybe, and I used to have monstrous legs, which gave me issues with pants, but now my problem is finding pants that won’t fall down when I readjust or do a transfer. If the waistband is elastic, then I’m usually fine, but if not, then I have a belt.

What you should be careful of, especially if you don’t have much sensitivity, is when you have your pants on tight, they will likely be tight around the booty and make things uncomfortable. Because pants are mostly designed for walking and standing, they typically come down a bit in the back when people sit. This is how the unfortunate event of buttcracks showing happens. And if you look at a belt of anyone who wears one for a while, the belt tends to curve in the middle from when the pants move down when people sit.

So, because you’re sitting, don’t have the pants too tight such that they cause issues when sitting.

Recap. When buying pants, look at the areas between you and the chair, avoid extrusions and beck pockets, make sure the seams aren’t huge or in a bad place, and don’t wear a belt too tight that causes them to hike up. Elastic waistbands are nice.

And now that you know some things to avoid in pants, what should we look for?

Well, I like pants that have front pockets that zip shut, usually found in athletic pants, its useful because it keeps things from falling out like they might otherwise. The side pockets are easier to access than the ones that have the opening parallel with the waistband.

It’s good to have at least two pairs of athletic pants and dressier pants. Another thing to look at in athletic pants is how warm they are for the winter, sometimes I’ll layer my lululemon joggers under my pants since it gets rather cold where I live. If you find yourself in an outdoor situation, maybe look into buying water repellent or waterproof pants.

You’ll see a post soon of the best pants I found.


Immediate actionable items: If you’re in a wheelchair, check which pants of yours are likely to not be good for you and update your selection to be better for you and your body. If you’re not in a wheelchair, you’re probably fine.

Summary: Pants can cause issues if you’re in a wheelchair because you sit down a lot. When buying pants or choosing which pair to wear today, there are things to consider that filter out certain pants and bring new ones to your closet.

Overdeliver:  When it comes to pants, or shorts, having them too stretchy can be an issue. If you’ve seen the youtube video where I show you how to put on pants, you’ll see how it could be problematic because if they’re too stretchy they wouldn’t pull on as easily and would just stretch.

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