Most of us don’t even think about it when we’re younger. We just get down on the floor and back up as needed. Over time, a combination of back or joint issues and gradual muscle loss (sarcopenia) can make getting up from the floor without assistance difficult.
This really becomes problematic if we find ourselves in a situation where there is no one there to help or nothing to hang onto to get back up.
Any time I have a client who expresses concerns about their ability to get up off the floor, I point out that the best thing to do is practice getting up off the floor.
If you have concerns about yourself, it’s something to consider working on as part of your daily fitness routine.
What is the best way to get up off the floor? The most common method used by older folks is to roll over onto their hands and knees and then bring one leg forward underneath them. You can then push off with your hands and legs to return to standing.
There is nothing wrong with using this method, although when practicing it, I recommend you alternate sides to make sure you’re not only strengthening one side of the body. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look graceful, it just needs to be effective.
Other methods of getting up include remaining on your backside and crossing the lower legs or using a wider stance; in either case you can use your hands as assistance if you need to.
If you are able to get up without any assistance from your hands, that is the best of all but is not necessary in a practical sense. I generally have people lie down and stand up from the floor four to six times with alternating sides emphasized.
Other things to keep in mind are your overall muscular strength, balance and agility. These are important components of your fitness routine as you age and will benefit you in activities of daily living as well as when you need to get up off the floor.
One of the problems of aging is the gradual loss of muscle mass, especially in the legs. Working specifically on exercises that target the quadriceps, hip stabilizer muscles, glute muscles, lower leg muscles and balance exercises will be beneficial. Don’t neglect the upper body though and using your chest, back, arms, shoulders and core are also important.
A full body strength training routine that includes functional exercises, mobility exercises and balance exercises is very beneficial for anyone.
Some great exercises to start with include:
Wall sits, Wall pushups Rows with a band or hand weights, Plank (modified if needed), Basic squats (modified if needed), Balancing by standing of one foot, Clamshells with a weight or band, Bird dog (opposite arm and leg extensions while on hands and knees) and Heel/calf raises on a step or stair.
These types of workouts can be done two to three times a week and for one to three sets of 10-15 repetitions for the most benefit. This still gives you time for cardiovascular exercises, stretching/flexibility and mind/body exercise during your week.
If in doubt, contact a personal trainer who specializes in working with middle-aged and senior folks to help you with this.
Their job will be to help you with learning the exercises, using modifications and working around any injuries to give you the most benefit for your own particular situation.
Remember to stay active and strong as you age. We can’t stop the aging process, but we can certainly slow it down.
Body Image Fitness, LLC
Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a healthcare professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.