The Key to a Long and Functional Life – Getting Up & Down Off the Floor

I don’t know about you, but as I have aged with my chronic condition, I tend to use bad words when I need to get down on the floor to get something that has rolled under a piece of furniture. That is until my granddaughters ask me to play, then it is a whole different story (at least in the curse word department). I tend not to overthink the difficulty of movement when I am “playing” with little ones. 

As I have aged, this simple little task of getting down on the floor and getting back up has gone from thinking nothing of it—up and down all day (with amazing speed at that… okay that might be a bit of an exaggeration there)—to being a major pain.

Seriously, I would work with clients all day, and then clean my house with no second thought about getting up and down from the floor. Then COVID-19 hit, and my granddaughters moved far away. Movement became an obstacle that needed to be thought of and planned for ahead of time in order to complete certain tasks. Let me tell you, cleaning my house just for myself was not high on the list of activities I was interested in doing during our shut-in phase in the U.S. 

This leads me to today, and how the Floor 2 Feet came about. I was attending a conference and I was asked to work with a recreation center outside of Chicago to support seniors. With so many years of working with the senior population, I knew that in order to restore function and increase their ability to live independently, getting up and down from the floor was key. Then—surprise! I found it validated in studies. The target was then to design a program that works! Translation: a program that people will get the desired results.

So, where do you start when building a program like this? Especially when there’s likely to be low motivation, possible pain, and limited functional ability in the mix? Well, as you should be aware of by now, small and steady wins the race in the world of impaired conditions and living day-to-day. I teamed up with a wonderful yoga instructor Liz Gelman in the Chicago area to create this 10-week program. 

What about it is so wonderful? Besides the fact that Liz and I produced it (with 50+ years of experience between us, we know what we are talking about), we break down the movement and choose core exercises focused on building strength and flexibility to enable you to get up and down off the floor safely.

We also built in an educational component, as stiffness and inflammation can be a huge influencing factor in performing not only getting up and down, but many activities we like to participate in. For example, traveling, dancing, and going to amusement parks to relive our misspent youth. 

These supplemental educational pieces will promote general good health and wellness practices. In them, we tackle sleep, myofascial release techniques, mindfulness, and proper breathing (let me tell you, it is complicated). Who knew breathing needed to be addressed? But if we want our muscles and brains to function at their best, there is a trick to it. There are so many components to a small, seemingly inconsequential task. Yet, that is why it is such a large indicator of our overall health, our ability to live longer, and to be in top shape to enjoy it. 

Where is this offered? This pilot program is currently at one location.  The Techny Prairie Activity Center in Northbrook Illinois.  Sign Up Now spaces are limited. Or, email us to be updated as other locations become active.

If you don’t live near the class and would like to work on your own with the Floor 2 Feet techniques, we’ve included a few steps below to help you get started. Please perform the suggestions below pain-free—when we move with pain we compensate, which leads to the wrong muscle and joint doing the work. That ultimately leads to more pain, so it’s always a good idea and a best practice to move pain-free.

Step One — Flexibility

Do daily:

Ankle dorsiflexion (or pulling your shoelaces toward you) is a key component of the movement. Practice pulling your laces to you and pointing your feet away, like a ballerina. Even doing the alphabet with the top of your shoe works. Do about 10-12 repetitions per foot. Avoid using the knee to help, keep the movement at the ankle.

Hamstrings: There are many great stretches on the internet for your hamstrings, both dynamic (moving) and static (still or holding). You can choose one of these options, or find another stretch that works best for you.

Quads: Similar to hamstring stretches, there are many different quadriceps stretches to choose from. Pick the one that you feel you can do easily.

Lower Back: Cat and Cow or child’s pose are both wonderful stretches, done best at the end of the day when you are stiff from looking at the computer all day.

Step Two — Strength Training & Functional Movements

Do 2-3 times a week:

Core Work: Spinal movements as shown in this Life Energy Foundation Channel Video

Rowing: Any tube or dumbbell row for your back, it is better if you perform these standing to aid in integrating the movement up the kinetic chain (transferring strength up and down your body).

Sit to Stand: You guessed it, going from just a seat to standing helps with getting up and down off the floor. Play around with the height of the chair or surface you sit on. Hold weights, vary the tempo (how fast or slow you do the movement).

One Leg Static Squat: Kneel with one knee on a firm surface or the floor, if appropriate. Place the other foot in front where it is comfortable as close in line with the back knee as possible. Raise your arms overhead (make sure your shoulders are not in pain, elbows can be bent). Square your hips so there is no rotation, load your weight into the front foot (equally balanced between the ball of the foot and the heel), and stand up. Return to starting position and repeat for a designated number of repetitions. Fully load the knee each time you stand up.

These steps can help you get into a healthy, pain-free routine that will improve your ability to get up and down off the floor, while also promoting your overall well-being. Good luck, and remember we are always here to help! If you have any questions or want more resources/direction, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you! Remember you can also sign up here if you want to attend the in-person Chicago Floor 2 Feet Program!