Even though age is just a number, the fact that Sylvia is 93 and is still going strong is wonderful. Part of our routine is the simple act of walking. In order to this, she needs to push herself up from her chair, plant her feet firmly down, and lift her body into a comfortable upright position, to then grab a hold of the handles of her walker. Push and lift. Those are the actions simplified. PUSH / LIFT. This action I consider an exercise in and of itself: the ability to lift oneself out from a chair. It’s a challenge not only for Sylvia sometimes, but for many seniors. The cooperation of many muscles is necessary for this movement: those in the shoulders (front deltoids) and upper arms (triceps), chest (deltoids), lower back (latissimus dorsi), core (rectus abdominus), and legs (quadriceps). Push. Lift. A “warm-up” method sometimes used is a 1,2,3-lift! Whereby Sylvia rocks with a little lift on each number, with the big push and lift on #3.
I decided to add in the TRX Suspension Trainer to incorporate more muscles in a PULL / LIFT method. Not only does this exercise put more effort into the major muscles not being used as much in the PUSH/LIFT method: arms (biceps now more than triceps), shoulders (rear more so than front deltoids), upper back (rhomboids, scapula), legs (hamstrings now more than quadriceps), and core, it also mimics the act if one was to fall. Grip is also strengthened. This is extremely important as we get older. How to lift oneself up off the ground. I have clients, with whom I am able to do exercises on the floor, that need to hold onto to either my arm or something nearby to stand. The “row” exercise on the TRX is a fantastic way to develop this ability, not only physically but mentally, and be comfortable with lifting one’s own body.
If they’re able, I work on planks with my clients, and pushups of different modifications, to be comfortable and strong enough to either hold themselves up, or push themselves up off the ground. However, I learned that in most situations, with either training clients or witnessing falls in the senior community, the person has had the ability to roll themselves over to then have assistance or find something to hold onto. It’s the second part – the pulling and lifting, that is the essential second half of being able to get up off the ground.
A story I like to share was once I was working at a gym in a senior community. A woman of senior age fell as she tried to step up over the curb and onto the sidewalk. A woman of senior age tried to help. He fell. This is when I was notified and ran to see them both struggling in the parking lot. I helped them each individually, with a female employee’s assistance. If not to help yourself get off the ground, be strong enough to help someone you’re with.
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