When you were a tyke, you probably plopped down on the floor to play and sprung back up just as seamlessly. But as we age, getting up with grace (and without grunting) isn't as easy.
Fortunately, with practice, you can strengthen your getting-up-from-the-floor game with certain exercises.
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Incorporate the following moves, recommended by Lee Hanses, PT, DPT, into your workouts or do them whenever you find yourself hanging out on the floor.
1. Split Squat
- Begin standing and place one foot in front of the other Your hands can be on your hips or at your sides.
- Bend your knees so your front thigh lowers as far as comfortable or until it's parallel with the floor.
- Keeping your feet planted, come back up to a split stance.
- Do all reps, then switch sides.
This unilateral (single-side) move helps you gain leg strength and improves balance. Doing exercises that make your legs stronger and bolster your balance can help reduce your risk of falls later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. 90/90 Hip Switch
- Sit on a mat or the floor. Take a deep breath and make your torso tall and proud.
- Bring your right leg in front so your thigh is straight out from your waist, with your thigh turned so the outside of your thigh is on the floor. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees and the outside of your shin, ankle and foot should also be on the floor. Keep your ankle in a neutral position so that your toes point directly forward.
- Maintaining a vertical torso and keeping your right leg in this position, bring your left leg out so that your thigh is pointing at a 90-degree angle away from your torso, and the inside of your thigh, shin and foot are on the floor. The knee of this leg should also be bent 90 degrees and your ankle should be in a neutral position.
- Keep your back straight and try to sit into both of your hips equally. If it’s hard to keep your torso up straight, place a block under your outside hand, or use one of the variations below.
- Hold this position as long as desired.
- Switch your legs and repeat on the other side.
The 90/90 hip switch stretch improves lower-body mobility, which is essential for getting up from the floor, Hanses says. It also feels great on tight hips.
3. Adductor Rock
- Get on one knee and stretch your other leg directly out to your side. (Place your knee on a pillow if you need cushion.)
- Place your hands on the floor in front of you and sit your pelvis back towards your heel as far as you can.
- Rock forward again, feeling a stretch through the inner thigh of the outstretched leg.
- Do all reps, then switch sides.
This move helps enhance mobility in the muscles of your inner thighs, called your adductors, which play an important role in balance and alignment, Hanses says.
4. Hamstring Stretch
- Lie face-up on a yoga mat or a soft surface on the floor with your legs extended and arms at your sides.
- Raise your left leg and pull the thigh gently toward your chest, either grabbing your leg above or below (but never behind) the knee.
- With every exhale, slowly draw the knee closer into the chest, keeping your right leg extended.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds then switch sides.
This stretch increases flexibility in your hamstrings, which may be shortened and tight if you spend a lot of time sitting.