When your physical power goes
My job is to keep you steady on your feet, no matter what age you are. Having taught balance and stability classes for years we like to think we have improved the quality of life of so many of our "fallers", having increased confidence and built up strength. But sometimes it goes wrong and we have to rethink what is vital to teach someone who is frail or elderly or in Bob's case both?
We can't prove that we stop people falling over. We do have countless anecdotal stories of where our methods have been put into practice. So during our backward chaining teaching, Bob gets down on the floor without any problems. Only when he got there, he decided to share that he had fallen earlier in the day. In spite of the countless instructions and clear warnings of why you shouldn't get on the floor unless you can get back off it, Bob decided he would be fine. BUT HE WASN'T. Bob had lost his upper body power and therefore lost his independence.
Despite all the repetitions that he had performed over the course of 16 weeks, he simply could not lift his body weight off the floor. Bob lay on his side and pushed his arm into the ground to lift his torso and each time he simply collapsed and then he began to panic.
At 6 foot 4 and the young age of 84, he really is a brilliant client, a little stubborn maybe. So as we worked to help him off the floor (it took three of us), I started to revisit his movement pattern and apply an exercise solution to the problem.
You could hear his tone and panic, his ability to listen to instructions was fading fast. What can we do to we prevent this happening or at the very least reduce the risk?
A re-visit to the wall press up was the first place to start. Here we can look at bilateral presses and make adjustments in terms of hand and foot placements to increase or decrease the intensity. Once comfortable and more so confident, then we can address pushing off and landing press-ups. This will increase power, not to mention, improve bone health at the wrist joint, elbow and shoulder.
Then we look at unilateral wall press or single arm tricep press. This move can increase power and strength into the shoulder girdle. Perhaps someone has fallen and injured an arm... to potentially save a life you need to train both right and left side separately.
Of course all exercises can be progressed onto the floor. In this case I have amplified the movement from Mermaid in Pilates. Sitting on your side with one arm wrapped around the ribs, lower and lift away from the ground using your breath to push you. This targets the back of the arms, stretches through the side seams and looks easier than it feels.
The moral of this story is that all difficult situations can be converted into an exercise solution. I have always argued that anyone can move, you simply need to be given the right support, confidence and nurture to help you improve the movement patterns.