If you're interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Don't Just Sit There . If you'd like ideas and inspiration for sitting on the floor, check out this poster.
Can you get up and down off the floor without “touching” anything?
My oldest client ever was a woman named Myrle. She was 89 when she started seeing me and we worked together for 5 years. When we first met, I asked her to get down on the floor and back up. I wanted to get a sense of her functional strength. It took her about 2 minutes to get down (with the use of a chair) and it took her 72 minutes, 4 pieces of furniture, and every one of MY muscles to get her back up again.
She was mortified and told me how the exercise brought up memories of her mother. She had cared for her mother in the end stages of her life, and when she watched her mother struggle to get off the floor, she swore “I will NEVER be like that.” Of course, most physical goals require some sort of physical practice beyond grand declarations. Myrle, like most people, didn’t get down on the floor regularly the last 20 (or 40) years and so the muscle strength necessary to do so silently slipped away.
The mobilities and strengths in the legs and torso necessary to get off of the floor translate down to mobilities and strengths at deeper levels of the blood vessels and cells. (I’m writing how and why in my next book, which is what I’ve been focusing on lately because I am no longer able to tend to my family, keep up with nutritious food and movement, interact with you all online, run the Institute, write a book, AND blog. Apologies!)
If you haven’t yet read about the Getting Up From Sitting Down test, here is an article to bone up: Can You Do This? Simple Test Predicts Longevity.
"It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favourable influence on life expectancy." - Dr Araújo, head researcher
Here is the original research article: Ability to sit and rise from the floor as a predictor of all-cause mortality.
I’ve found the actual protocol video, which clarifies the protocol and explains, clearly, how to score. If only it were in English. HA HA, NOT TO WORRY! There are subtitles to clarify in English. Clearly.
Yesterday I posted this exercise (taken from our "Think Outside the Chair" poster on our Facebook page as a “try this."
In my recommendations, I included this comment: As you come up, the more you lean forward, the less leg muscle you use. You might lean at first, but over time, use less momentum by keeping your torso upright.
Why do I recommend this parameter? Is it because leaning forward is doing this move wrong? No, of course not.
Alignment (that is, in this case, the parameters placed on an exercise specifically for the purpose of creating a certain load-profile) is not for the purpose of "doing it right." There is no doing something "right." You can get up and down any way you choose, each one of them equally valid. But, as a lot of research shows, the way you do something indicates the innerworkings of your body. If you always get up and down via your arm on the floor, leaning forward to create momentum, or falling out a posture only to catch yourself quickly with a leg, it means that the strengths necessary to do it another way are waning. Using momentum and joint angles that naturally minimize muscle use mean atrophy is already in progress. Your tissues have already adapted to lower loads.
A series of alignment points to monitor during an exercise brings an awareness to the current state of your body by saying: try executing this move THIS way. THIS way minimizes all other forces and places the greatest demand on your force-generating systems. If you cannot execute it THIS way, then make some change in levers toward the points that minimize the effect of external forces and you will slowly acquire strength through gradual loading.
All "getting up off of the floor" is not equal. Neither is all "walking," all "carrying," and "squatting." You can accomplish a move (Hey, I can get up and down off the floor just fine, as long as I can use my arms to push here and there...) utilizing systems outside of your own internal force production. What a research shows is that, in the end, the way you do it does matter.
Now, if you scored lower than you like, get to work. Getting down and up off the floor more frequently is the corrective. To fill the strength gap more gradually, bring the floor "higher" by lowering yourself to a stack of pillows or bolsters. Over time, you can take them away. The skill of stable sitting and rising requires both mobility and strength. You can be strong and not supple and super-flexible without strength. Find your gap, and get to work.
I just learned that Myrle passed away this April at 96. She was an amazing woman, and I'd like to honor her by recollecting a few of my favorite Myrle details here:
1. Her middle name started with A but she WOULD NOT TELL ME what her middle name was, saying it was just too horrible. I mean, what could it have been? I guessed hundreds of horrible "A" names and never got it right.
2. She was a tomboy with a long stride (which we worked on restoring during our sessions). When Myrle was a teen, her mother said the way Myrle walked wasn't lady-like so she sewed pencil skirts that bound Myrle's legs to create a tiny steps.
3. Myrle joined the military at age 32 and was transferred to Washington, from her home in Pacific Grove. Her most memorable moment was, when hiking on Mount Baker in the dense fog and cloud cover, her head popped out and over the clouds so her face was in the sun and the rest of her body was underneath them.
Love you, Myrle.