As you probably already know, this month, we are working on how to improve your ability to get up and down off the floor without using any help, or at least as little help as possible.
The first article in this series discussed a cool study that showed that your ability to get up and down off the floor with as little help as possible was directly related to how long you were going to live! The second week, we learned how to start training some of the muscles that will help propel you up off the ground by looking at the mechanics of a "chair squat." Last week, we slowed the whole process down in order to isolate and work on weak spots.
However, before you can really go down to the ground we need to work on how to go upstairs first!
Have you ever tried to move a dog that was crashed out on a bed or the floor? How about trying to lift up a toddler who fell asleep on the couch? Do you ever wonder why it is so hard to move someone who is totally relaxed? In a word: TONE.
Consider this example: Let's say, one of your friends sat down in a bean bag chair and asks you for a hand pulling them up and out of the chair. How hard is it to help them if all they do is grasp your hand and you both pull? Pretty hard, huh? Now, try it again with your friend not only grasping your hand, but stiffening their whole body, especially their mid section. How hard is it now? Much easier right?
A firm structure is one with tone and it allows for an efficient transfer of energy, whether or not the force acting on the structure is from the outside (you helping your friend up) or the inside (you helping yourself up off the floor).
It is the difference between trying to nail a box of jello to the wall and nailing actual jello to the wall!
One of the unique things about muscles that are responsible for maintaining tone in your body is that they do not necessarily require a large load for them to get stronger and more efficient. They actually, more often, require a lighter load! That makes muscle training less like straining and more like activating.Think of it like this: sitting and inactivity tend to shut off the muscles that maintain tone in your body - taking them offline, if you will. Turning them back on with a low load, but frequently throughout the day, can help to increase the firmness of your torso and make it easier for you to get off the floor and move about!
Try not to be distracted by the famous person in the picture to the right. Instead, let's focus on breaking down the simple exercise he is doing that can activate the tone muscles of the body.
- Start with your butt and head against the wall, and feet shoulder-width apart and 10 inches from the base of the wall.
- Keep your feet flat, stiffen your body like a board (tighten your glutes) and push your pelvis forward. This will cause your body to rise off the wall until only your head is touching (shoulders should also be off the wall).
- Hold for a slow count of 30-60 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times per day!
Start to combine last week's exercises with this week's exercise and you will really be on your way! Next post, we will finally start moving our way down to the ground. Stay tuned and remember: consistency over time is the way to go!
Doug Williams, D.C. Care Chiropractic Lafayette, Indiana