A common question I encounter as a physical therapist, especially amongst my “more experienced” patients (i.e. over the age of 65) is “How do I get up from the floor?” It is a task that during our youth, we take for granted. The truth is, as we age, there is a multitude of factors which can limit the ability to easily pop up from the floor.
Why Does It Matter?
You may be thinking, I have no need to get up and down from the floor, so why does it matter? Your ability to get off the ground is a predictor for your life expectancy. Barreto de Brito et al took over 2000 adults aged 51-80 and graded their ability to stand from the floor from 0-10. After a six-year follow-up, those with lower scores had an increased risk of mortality. Even more convincing, each point higher that one scored on the scale resulted in a 21% improvement in their survival chance (1)!
The reason the ability to stand from the floor is such a good predictor of longevity is that this task requires a significant combination of strength, flexibility, and balance. Not only does your lower body need to be strong enough to propel you from the floor, but the flexibility through your hips is incredibly important. After decades of spending little time stretching and lots of time sitting, your hips may be too tight to accomplish this move easily. For a quick guide to stretch your hips, check out this article.
Practice Makes Perfect
One way to improve your strength and balance for this task is to simply practice. You can break down getting up from the floor into a step by step process. Utilizing the steps as individual exercises can build your tolerance. Check out the video below for step by step instructions on getting up from the floor.
1.Brito, Leonardo Barbosa Barreto De, et al. “Ability to Sit and Rise from the Floor as a Predictor of All-Cause Mortality.” European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, vol. 21, no. 7, 2012, pp. 892–898., doi:10.1177/2047487312471759.