As many of us age, it seems more challenging to do certain simple tasks such as getting up from a seated position. Is this an age related problem or is there something that we or our healthcare providers are not understanding about this simple task.
Sure, you can purchase a chair that will elevate and lift you as you stand up, and companies are manufacturing chairs that will do this for you, but is that helpful or harmful? While the chair will make standing easier from a seated position, the truth is, it does not in any way address the mechanism behind your difficulty arising from a chair, and it is likely that over time, the problem will worsen.
Often, lower back pain and other problems in the neck, shoulders, knees and hips will follow because of tight fascia and alterations in your gait. Are there things you can do now to reverse these trends that seem like they may be a part of aging?
Problems arising from a chair is not an age related problem, but instead a body mechanics and physics issue. Even our younger patients who come in with lower back or upper back problems have difficulty with this seemingly easy task.
While there have been many articles written concerning the core and how it functions, the truth is that if you take the right approach from the ground up, you can prevent many episodes of back pain from ever occurring and protect your knees, hips and feet for years to come. If addressed with the proper thought process, not only will your back feel and function better, but getting out of a chair will require far less assistance from your arms or by having to move forward or backward on the chair to enhance leverage from the ground up
Problems getting out of a chair is a structural problem requiring a structural solution. It is not a problem solved by doing sit-ups or obsessively exercising your back muscles. It is not a problem that responds to canned protocols from a therapist that are supposed to work. The problem often begins with feet that fall in and usually, one falls in or turns out more than the other. It is a problem of the fascia in the legs and pelvis and it is a problem of coordinated movement which has altered patterns of movement and it is a problem of poorly learned habits. It is a problem that is unique to us, and our families because we not only look like them, but walk like them as well.
To improve your body mechanics, you must begin from the ground up. If you do not wear them already, consider wearing either off the shelf or custom orthotics. Leveling out the hips will improve the way your core functions which will improve your stability when your feet push against the ground to get up. Core stability is key to getting off chairs since a stable core will reduce the amount of work your legs need to do when standing from a sitting position. Using foot orthotics for years can protect your knees and hip joints from permanent damage as well.
3 simple exercises you can do now to improve the way you get out of a seated position.
Lunges are terrific for stabilizing the lower core area. They are also diagnostic since a poorly functioning core will inappropriately load the legs and cause them to tighten. Lunges can improve lower leg and core tone and improve your strength and flexibility, which is especially important getting out of a chair.
Hip extensions and lateral leg raises are excellent for strengthening the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus and the lateral and posterior leg muscles. They also engage the lower back muscles as well. These are the muscles that allow us to stand and hold ourselves up, in combination with the fascial systems. It improves muscle tone and strength in the lower back and hip region and improve your ability to arise from a chair .
Planks help stabilize the core muscles and improve overall stability when walking and bending, and will improve your abilities to get out of a chair, since it addresses the deep core. Check out these plank exercises we recommend for our patients here
If you want to understand these concepts better, you may wish to read Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain. It is available through Amazon.com and other fine booksellers.
If you have tried these exercises and foot orthotics and continue to have problems getting out of a seat, see your local sports chiropractor who can evaluate your body mechanics and find out why. In most cases, a few visits of myofascial release treatment, exercises and gentle joint mobility and manipulation to the legs, pelvis and spine can make a marked improvement.