“Weird Things I Have Around Home To Help Me Mobilise. Weird Thing # 3: Tools and Toys Replace Furniture”

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!

Living On The Floor

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.)


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:

Sitting on the floor reading while stretching 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):

Sitting upright with legs straight out, while watching TV

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.

I can exercise on the floor while chatting to others

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.

Playing on the wii

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:

Using the Obie foam roller and non-slip mat while chatting and watching TV

I can use the Swiss balls for active sitting, for activating hamstrings, and for strengthening my left glutes and around my left knee:

Using the small swiss ball

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!

8 thoughts on ““Weird Things I Have Around Home To Help Me Mobilise. Weird Thing # 3: Tools and Toys Replace Furniture”

  1. Hi Move4Life,
    I’m glad you found this post interesting. My friends are now used to me sitting on the floor when I visit them. My grown up children always ask if I’d like to eat on the floor! The thing is, once you get used to sitting on the floor, it’s easily the most comfortable place to be and offers many versatile positions. After I’ve been sitting in the car for a while I like to lie prone and stretch out.
    I’ve added something to my living area that might interest you. I have some stone mats. I can walk on them, do exercises while standing on them, sit on them, massage my buttocks on them … anyway the post is https://lookupatthesky.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/weird-things-i-have-around-home-to-help-me-mobilise/
    The more I used the mats, the more different things I found to do on them, so I use them for much more than I originally wrote about.
    I’ll put the link on your site (which is very interesting, thanks for letting me find you!)

  2. It’s not rude at all!
    I’ll give some thought as to how best to answer your question. I should maybe post an explanation about spinal cord injuries in general, and mine in particular. I don’t want to bore you though.
    Something to think about is that spinal cord injuries (SCI)are sometimes complete, that is the cord is completely severed and from the injury down there is no movement or sensation. More often SCI are incomplete and there is some sensation or movement below the injury site, but perhaps not enough to have any useful function. Also, it has been thought that the spinal cord, as part of the central nervous system, does not repair. However, things can and do improve.
    It was initially thought that my injury was almost complete, but I have had a lot of improvement, and even after seventeen years I continue to improve. But it’s complicated.
    I’ll tell my story in a post …
    Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  3. Can I ask a question? This may take a whole new post to answer, but…

    I thought that when you had a spinal cord injury you were ‘normally’ mobile above a certain point in your body and then immobile and unable to feel anything below that point. That doesn’t appear to be your case, as all of this kit would be a lot less useful if your whole body was either ‘normal’ or completely unusable.

    Apologies if that’s too rude, but I’d really like to know!


    –Heather 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for your comments. The funny thing is that people agree how good it is to get on to the floor with kids, but then say they’re finding it a struggle to stand up again – they miss the point that if they spent more time on the floor, not just when the grandchildren are around, they’d be more flexible and they’d move more easily from floor to standing. I liked your comment about the elderly Chinese man squatting with a toddler. 🙂

  5. You’ve got the same crutches as me 🙂 I really like the hand grips.

    My husband grew up in Thailand and his sister is now raising her family there, too. Unfortunately he went to an expat kids boarding school where he lost both his language and his ability to squat, although his sister has had to relearn it since returning there to live as an adult. It seems such a convenient skill. My niece and nephew are in NZ at the moment, and I’ve realised that, by squatting, they have no need of a chair – they make their own instant chair instead.

    I also saw an elderly Chinese man at the Avondale market once, squatting and reading the newspaper with a toddler safe in the circle his arms made. It was lovely to see.

    It’s funny how kids see the fun side in the stuff we need to do, but adults just see the problems that lead us to those solutions. I need straws to drink, and I’ve given away large quantities of straws as every young kid who sees me using one instantly wants one for their drink, too. Adults never do 😉

    –Heather 🙂

    1. Thank you very much for your comments, Heather, and for sharing your observations. Really interesting. I’ve replied on the post. The crutches I use have permanent user handles. All crutches should have this type of handle – I lent a pair of mine to a neighbour because after using hospital supplied crutches for a week he was getting cramp in his hands. The handles spread your weight over your whole hand. They are comfortable.

      Thanks Denny

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