Have you ever been out to dinner with family and friends and struggle to stand when it’s time to leave? Just last week, two women at different times came to me and asked for help. “It’s so embarrassing when I try to stand,” they both said. “I’m stiff and it hurts to try to stand up straight. I’m too young for this. What can I do?”
Ladies, you are not alone. Joints tend to get stiff when you’re in one position too long. This is especially true if you’re not very active and you are older with degenerative changes at your joints. And, you’re right: for someone in your 60’s and 70’s, you are too young for this.
Now the good news! There is something you can do about it. Read on for three steps you can take to live better now.
You have the power!
1) First and most importantly, exercise regularly to improve your strength and flexibility
That’s right, get moving and keep moving. It doesn’t matter what your activity level is now, this is your starting point. If you sit most of the day, start by doing gentle exercises in your chair. If you can walk throughout your home, start with this. Try to slowly increase how far you can walk over time. This will help build your strength and endurance. If you are more active than that, consider buddying up with a friend and walk outside on a regular basis. The weather is beautiful outside now. Enjoy it! Beyond that, join a class at your nearby YMCA or community center. No matter your starting point, you have options. Just start…
2) Improve your posture
Good posture is maintaining the natural curves of your spine. A lumbar roll can help support your low back. Another way to improve your posture has to do with the seat you are on. Try to use a pad or a strategically folded towel to raise your hips above your knees. This will decrease the tendency of the spine to flex at the lower level. Make sure feet are flat on the ground. This provides proper support from the ground up.
3) Try this maneuver just before you stand
Have you heard of a pelvic tilt? Just before you stand, perform a few pelvic tilts while seated – start with a small range of motion and make it bigger as you feel able. Others will not even know you’re doing it. This gets the lower spine ready for extension which is required for standing. Remember, the longer you sit the more difficult it will be to rise. If you know you will be sitting a long time, excuse yourself when you start to squirm and go to the bathroom – if you have to go or not. Just getting up and moving will help you loosen up.
These three ideas have helped many of my clients feel better now and allowed them to keep up with their friends and family. Try them out! I’d love to hear how it’s going.