Why do people stop floor play and why is nobody speaking about it?
Is it taking you longer to get up after you have gone down to the ground?
If so then you should read this article and implement some more floor play into your life.
More specifically I am talking about the ability to get down and up from the ground and move around the floor more easily. As people get older they tend to stop going down to the ground as often and like any other skill, if you don’t use it you lose it. Avoiding certain movements because they are uncomfortable leads to a negative cycle. The less we do it, the worse we become at it. It starts to become harder and more uncomfortable to get off the ground and slowly leads to a decline where you are no longer able to get up from the ground independently.
Why is getting down and up from the ground so important?
The ability to get down and up from the floor is a necessary skill for full functional independence. Imagine dropping your book underneath the bed. You would need to sit on the floor to reach for them. Your grandchild throws the tennis ball and it lands underneath the car. Her short, little arms won’t reach it, but yours most definitely will. Guess what… get on the floor again! Or you are at the park and just want to lie down on some finely manicured grass for a peaceful rest. You better have that ability to get down and up from the floor!
Falling over is also something which happens to everyone and being able to dust yourself off and hop up is incredibly important. As a physiotherapist I work with people in their homes, re-educating and strengthening them in order to improve their ability to do this seemingly simple task. Prevention isn’t the sexiest type of exercise in the business but improving your ability now can save a world of trouble in the long run.
What does the research say?
A study from 2012 titled “Ability to sit and rise from the floor as a predictor of all-cause mortality” from the European Society of Cardiology (author Leonardo Barbosa Barreto de Brito) gained quite a bit of media attention a couple of years ago by using a simple sitting to rising test as a predictor of all-cause mortality (basically how long you will live). The test is simple and assesses your ability to get up from the floor using as little help from your hands and knees as possible. Here is a video link to see how the test is performed and scored from the researchers themselves - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCQ2WA2T2oA. Give it a go!
Subjects in the lower score ranges exhibited a 5-6 times higher risk of mortality than those who scored at the top (8-10 points). Now the study has to be taken with a grain of salt. You may have a specific condition which stops you from getting up this way, however in general, people who are stronger and more flexible fare better in life.
How can you improve it?
Simply put, you need to spend more time doing the specific activity of getting down and up from the floor and exercising on the floor. To help you out I have included links to three different examples of exercises we do up at the studio focusing on the lunging down to the ground, pushing up from the ground (or bench) and finally a good core exercise on the floor. If you practice more of these exercises your body will adapt and become more efficient at performing them.
In western cultures we spend much of our time during the day sitting in chairs unlike many other cultures who sit cross legged on the ground or on low seats. I have seen octogenarians in mountain villages in Nepal sitting cross legged playing cards with each other, most likely having just hiked for three days up from the nearest city! These cultures tend to spend more time on the ground and therefore maintain their ability to get down and up more easily.
Now maybe this is an unfair comparison, maybe not, but the central message here is to spend more time seated on the floor, whether that is meditating, watching television, reading a book, playing with the grandkids, scrubbing the deck or lying down on the grass in a park. This will force you to practice getting up and down from the ground more often.
In conclusion… don’t stop the floor play!
Floor play can be fun. So be proactive and try implementing some simple movements into your exercise routine as we showed above. Last of all make sure you do the exercises in a clean place unless you want to get down and dirty... Enjoy!