Does the idea of being on the floor give you cause for concern?
This subject has been coming up a lot over the last few months. Barring an injury, most people should be able to get down onto the floor and back up without needing someone else to help. Often, as we age, we lose some mobility and this is a big one for me. I have heard many times, “Why would I need to get on the floor at my age?” Or simply, “I haven’t gotten down on the floor since my kids were little”. Or a little more on the joking side, “There’s nothing down there that interests me."
All joking aside, even if you don’t want to watch TV sitting on the floor like the good ol’ days, and there are no children or pets that require you to get down to their level, being able to get down and back up again without assistance is REALLY important. There are several steps that can be taken to prevent falls, but what happens when you just can’t avoid a fall or in that off chance that you absolutely have to get down on the floor or ground to pick something up (you dropped your car keys and they went under the edge of the car, for example).
Being able to safely get down and back up is a skill that needs to be practiced- if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. If you can’t remember the last time you had to get up from the floor or if you have a difficult time getting onto or off of a low reformer in Pilates classes, you have some work to do (and keep doing). But where do you start?
Try getting up from a seated position in a chair. Are you able to stand up without using your hands? If not, let’s start there and work on building enough strength, balance and mechanics to rise to standing without pulling or pushing with your hands. If you can stand without using your hands, you can make it more and more challenging by lowering the surface you are seated on or changing the seated position, sitting with legs out long in front of you, side sitting or Z sitting, for example.
As you gain strength & confidence, work your way to a fully seated (or even try lying flat) on the floor position and add challenges by holding onto less surfaces to stabilize from the hands /arms or having fewer points of contact touching the floor as you come up to standing. Perhaps you can try a kneeling position and bring one leg up to put that foot on the floor and switch back and forth so that you can weight bear through each leg differently. When you’re ready, you can place your hands on the knee of the leg that is in front, and help push yourself up to standing. As you get stronger and more stable, you can try standing from that half kneeling position without using your hands at all.
* As with any new physical skill or when regaining a previously lost skill, use common sense and don’t immediately rush into the most challenging option you can think up. Start with the easiest version of new exercise or challenge and work from there. If you are not healthy enough for exercise or recovering from an injury, ask your Physical Therapist to help you work on this and other mobility skills.
* Check your surroundings to make sure you’re in a safe place to practice & exercise without risk of tripping over objects or knocking into furniture. If you’re going to have to use furniture to stabilize, make sure its sturdy and won’t fall over or slide away from you.
* If you’re unsteady, make sure someone else is close by to help you if needed
* If you are avoiding this functional activity, take a little time and find out why – the fear around falling can be a big demotivator. Be proactive and take steps to improve this skill.
* Schedule a private session with your Pilates Instructor or Physical Therapist and ask them to help you with this skill and other exercises that can help increase your stability