By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
As we age, we become less and less connected to the ground. Over time this leads to a fear of being on the floor. Since the “fear of falling” is an independent fall risk factor, learning how to recover from a fall is a good fall prevention skill. Falls are the leading cause of injury and loss of independence for older adults, so every effort we can make towards fall prevention improves our chances of not becoming a fall statistic. Let’s develop some fall prevention skills with exercises to help get up off the floor. Practice getting down and up from the floor once a day. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of getting up and down from the floor independently invite someone else to be in the room with you as you practice these exercises.
Begin by getting down to the floor with the help of a sturdy chair nearby. Face the side of the chair with the chair back on your left and the chair seat on your right. Place your left hand lightly on the chair back, bend the knees slightly, bend forward at the hip, place both hands on the chair seat and slowly lower yourself to the floor on one knee and then the other. Sit down on the floor. Turn over to your left side and lie down with your back on the floor; knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Floor Exercise #1
- step 1: Bring the knees to the chest and circle the knees 3X in one direction and 3X in the other direction to loosen the back and hip muscles.
- step 2: Return the feet to the floor with knees bent and begin to mindfully do the pelvic tilt several times. (The pelvic tilt, remember, is rocking the pelvis forward and backwards.)
- step 3: Add an abdominal exercise by tightening and pulling the belly button down toward the spine (floor). Repeat this several times.
- step 4: Proceed to “bridging” by pressing the feet and heels into the floor and lifting the buttocks off the floor. Squeeze and tighten the buttocks and abdominal muscles. Repeat several times.
- combine steps: Put step 1-4 together into one fluid movement beginning with the knee circle, pelvic tilt, abdominal tightening and bridging. Repeat this entire pattern 3-5 times.
Floor Exercise #2
- step 1: Straighten your left arm above your head, placing it on the floor and turn onto your left side. Hold this position and take several deep breaths until any dizziness dissipates.
- step 2: Bring right arm closer to your body and under your shoulder with the hand flat on the floor to help brace yourself as you push up onto your right arm. Slide your left arm back to meet the right hand and alternately, using the hands, push up to a seated position on your left side. Turn over so that you are fully seated on your buttocks with your weight evenly distributed on your sitz bones.
- step 3: Put your legs in whatever position is comfortable. Turn the upper torso and look to one side. Hold. Repeat in the other direction.
- step 4: Turn over to a crawling position on “all fours.” and crawl forward with tiny hand and leg movements, approximately 8 crawls forward and 8 back. Repeat several times.
- step 5: From the crawl position, bring your hips back to sit over your heels. With the hands staying in place, reach forward with your fingertips. Give your back a good stretch.
- step 6: Return to a crawl position and crawl to the chair. Place the hands on the seat of the chair pushing up into a half-kneel position first and then proceed to a full standing position.
- step 7: Stand up and feel the ground through the base of your soles. At the same time, lengthen your spine and take a deep cleansing breath.