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A Strength Strategy to Take the Fear Out of Falling
Working on Floor Mobility
We can’t stress enough the importance of being able to move freely and comfortably. This not only applies to walking and sitting but also while laying on the ground. As odd as that seems, ground mobility is something that has a profound impact on health, and safety. We all remember the old commercials “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” I’ve also heard, more than once, unfortunately, stories of individuals who had family members alone on the floor for hours, or days. This is unacceptable, which brings me to my point about ground mobility.
Interestingly enough there has been more than one study on the matter. Ultimately, the results can be paraphrased to say that the better your ability to get up off of the floor unassisted, the better your physical outcome will be in many aspects of life. We also believe the value in this outcome, which is why we suggest most everyone improve their strength and mobility on the floor. There is a direct correlation between how strong you are physically and maintaining independence or staving off common injuries associated with aging. Your physical strength can represent how resilient you are to the world around you. And this is where we thrive.
There is a big difference between being “strong enough” and being strong. Being strong means you are as ready as can be for life. Being strong enough, to me, means you can get by. You can do the bare minimum and get around. For certain populations, they have age against them, have previous injuries, are overweight, or are just inexperienced at pushing themselves, and this makes it difficult to check all abilities off the list. These individuals may be strong when getting up from a chair, or off the sofa, or up and down stairs. But getting up from a kneeling position on one leg, or perhaps even just rolling around on the ground to be able to get to a kneeling position may be an issue. This is the big difference between your muscles being in an advantageous position (strong enough), and being at their extreme ranges, which are traditionally the most difficult positions to be able to produce strength. Then compound that with the likelihood that getting off the ground requires single limb biases, and it becomes even more challenging. This is an unfortunate reality because if you find yourself kneeling down to pick something up, or if you fall, or if you get onto the ground to play with a grandchild, then you have to get back UP off the ground and many people find this challenging.
We believe this is often a contributing factor to individuals not being able to help themselves if they do find they become trapped in a certain position. The lack of practice means your body won’t be able to get into the correct positions to move (spine and hips), and also means you likely won’t have the requisite strength to move your full body up against gravity from an extreme position. This can become an unexpected trap that affects up to 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 every year.
We don’t want you to be strong enough; we want you to be strong. That way, if and when that day comes where you find yourself in an unfamiliar position, you have some tools at your disposal to help yourself rather than be helpless. We encourage everyone to try and lay down on the floor and then stand back up 10x to each side every day or every other day. We also encourage rolling around on the floor to maintain strength in that position. It also helps take the fear out of being “down there.” This is good practice and has profound implications in everyday life. If you don’t practice it, you won’t be good at it, that’s the bottom line. Start with some assistance at first, especially if you are unsure or uneasy about the task. Having someone there to help you will give you the confidence to try the position and fail, safely, so you know exactly where your weaknesses are. Then you can continue to practice with less and less assistance. And as always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Hope your floors are clean!