Warning: this post may be seen as lecturing …
Furniture, furnishings, possibly art or decorative pieces usually provide focal points in living rooms. Not so in our home! Sure we have couches and a coffee table, paintings on the walls, piano, side tables and nic nacs, but in our living room everything is pushed back to the walls to make space for me on the floor and to use the toys and tools that I use to help me stay mobile. House and Garden we are not!
In some ways the juxtaposition of piano and Swiss balls is quite charming, and the space cleared in the centre, an invitation to use it … I haven’t used the comfy couch for over a year. Instead, I use the floor to sit, lie, sprawl, wriggle, stretch and exercise as I read, watch TV or use the i-pad. (I’m spread out lying on my stomach as I write this on the i-pad. This position helps stretch my hip flexors and flexes my lumbar spine.)
LIVING ON THE FLOOR
If everyone used the floor instead of furniture, not only would they save lots of money not buying chairs and couches, but they’d be a lot healthier! Young people think that they’ll never get old and stiff and older people think they’ll never get stiff. Sitting on the floor stretches and strengthens muscle groups that don’t get used when you sit in/on a chair. Everything you can do in a chair you can do on the floor – read a book, use your I pad, watch TV, or chat to someone – plus you get the benefits of sitting on the floor:
Stretching your adductors:
When you’re on the floor you can read or watch TV while you sit on your heels stretching your quads, then lean back and stretch your hip flexors. You can sit upright with your legs straight out in front of you to stretch your hamstrings. (I can only do this while holding onto some webbing or theraband):
Not only does sitting on the floor improve flexibility, but sitting on a hard surface puts pressure on muscles that are in contact with the floor, causing them to eventually relax. This is similar to when massage therapists stimulate the golgi tendon organs through deep tissue massage, causing the muscles to relax. Living on the floor is comfortable and good for you!
There is no reason why you should be stiff when you’re old. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
I began to stretch because if I don’t, tension, tone and spasm increases in my muscles – despite the diversity and quantity of muscle relaxants I consume. The more I stretch, the better I feel, and the better I walk. I have a low boredom threshold so I’ve nagged my physio and personal trainer for equipment and techniques that allow me to multitask while I stretch. No problem in either case – the physio is sympathetic to my needs, and the personal trainer is a proponent of living on the floor. In fact he introduced me to the concept.
I also need to recruit weak muscles and try and redress gross muscle imbalance. I can do some exercises in the gym in a social environment, but some exercises are repetitive and can be done at home. I could put all my equipment in a spare room, but it’s much nicer and more likely to happen if I can do the exercises in a shared living space, another benefit of living on the floor.
The whole family can play on the wii, but the balance board gives me fantastic feedback – I have no sensation or propriception so I’ve no idea whether I’m leaning to the side … And the walking frame gives me something solid to grab if I start to fall.
I can use the Obie foam roller to massage my hamstrings, calves, glutes, lumbar spine and thoracic spine. I can use it to exercise my obliques:
I can use the Swiss balls for active sitting, for activating hamstrings, and for strengthening my left glutes and around my left knee:
These toys and tools are great for me, but even without them, just getting down and living on the floor has been a great move. As an aside, I’ve noticed that it’s younger people that take most easily to this idea. Little kids will do it naturally but it seems the older we get, and the more affluent we become,the more out of touch with our bodies we become.
Think about this: more than half the world’s population live on the floor. That includes the elderly, who in our society creak and groan as they get up out of a chair. Yet you don’t have to be stiff when you get old … and you don’t have to have problems with mobility to live on the floor!