Health Hub

by Robin Gaudette

How many of you would never dream of getting down to the floor in an exercise class?

Sometimes at our age, getting up off the floor may not be pretty. Finding ourselves ON the floor by accident might not be pretty either. The best way to help yourself is to practice and know how to help strengthen to improve your ability to get up off the floor.

Getting to the floor is part of daily living, playing with grandchildren and pets, picking something up or cleaning, etc., it is better to be safe than sorry.

Introducing G2S; ground to standing exercises. The ability to sit to the floor and return to standing is closely related to the risk of falling. As we age, three things happen that affect functional ability — loss of muscle strength, muscle mass and a loss of bone, muscle and connective tissue, making functional motion challenging in all three dimensions; direction, distance and depth. Also reduced is the nervous systems ability to effectively communicate with the connective tissue and muscle (gosh I dropped ANOTHER cup!) making activities of daily living more difficult.

By rhythmically lengthening and shortening the body’s connective tissue, G2S drills are designed to improve strength and mobility. These drills start from strange body positions to maximize foot placement, use of hips, pelvis and spine. Properly executing these exercises can also help posture, balance and mobility.

An added benefit of performing these drills is increased fluid movement, blood and lymph through the body. The pumping action of the muscles and moving against gravity improves the speed of flow enhancing circulation and creating cardiovascular benefit. Try the following exercises — tall kneeling step to stand, you may need to use a support to start. Start in a kneeling position with back knee on the ground and front foot flat on floor. Look straight ahead not down, press the ground down with front foot, keep the torso tall over the hips, stand and bring back foot to front foot. This is a great exercise for everyday functionality, picking things up, cleaning and getting to floor.

Try crisscross applesauce spin to train the body if you should find yourself seated. Sit in the “crisscross applesauce” position. Twist back and away from the top leg, turning your hips 180 degrees in opposite direction. Use your hand closest to floor to push the floor away and stand (you will be facing opposite direction from when you were seated).

OK, ramping it up! Lying on your back on the floor, roll on to your stomach. Push yourself into a plank (toes or knees and hands on the ground), walk your hands to your feet and slowly stand up. Reverse all exercises to return to starting position and repeat 10 times, daily. Increasing the speed of repetition, over time will improve agility, reaction time and cardiovascular system.

If you aren’t quite ready for those exercises, work on getting up from a sitting position not pushing with your hands. Progress to an almost sit where you tap the chair with your butt, don’t sit and stand back up tall. Then move to wall squats using an exercise ball if you have one. Place the ball at your low back against a wall, feet out in front and squat down returning to stand. Include endurance by using the ball and/or wall holding in a “sitting” position and time yourself.

Learning some of these exercises teaches more efficient movement and will lead to better coordination and the body’s ability to communicate with itself.

— Robin Gaudette is the aquatics wellness coordinator at the Redmond Area Park and Recreation District. Contact her at robin.gaudette@raprd.org .

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