Stability, not the mental kind

A couple weeks ago, I was down in Texas for Beloved Eldest Niece’s wedding. OK, Texas in August is HOT. Seriously.

So, needing some exercise to break that sluggish, post-travel-day slump, I got up early to run along the riverwalk (Waco). I saw lots of other like-minded folks out walking, cycling, running – because early is the only sane time to do that when the day will top out in triple digits. (I did see a couple of people running on lunch breaks. They were loaded with water bottles and hydration packs, enough to run an ultramarathon. But they were probably only running a couple miles – it was HOT! What is that saying…”mad dogs and Englishmen…”?)

I also worked in time to workout with my favorite clients – my parents. Lots of you know my parents from this blog, especially my mom. (you can read about Mom’s quest to be the pushup queen here )

They’re both in very good shape because they are great about exercising regularly. But they’ve both had some health issues in the last year or two, so I wanted to check in on their routines – make some adjustments and add some new things into the mix to keep their exercise routines from becoming too “routine.” With recent hip and eye surgeries, I wanted to add stability work.

Some changes were just modifying exercises they’ve been doing. For instance, instead of lunges forward, I had them do lunges on the diagonal, stepping out at a 45 degree angle instead of straight forward. This works the stabilizer muscles – abductors and adductors – a little more. Also, they don’t do deep lunges any more. They step and dip down only as far as is comfortable and stable for them.

I also took the post-hip surgery exercises for strengthening abductors and turned it into an upright, moving exercise. Originally, it was extending the leg out to the side, which can be done lying flat on the back or seated. Mom has modified it to a lift, lying on her side. I just took that exercise and changed it into a moving exercise for both of them because I want everything to relate to movement and making sure they are strong and stable as they move through their day.

So I had them stand facing a wall (for stability if they get off balance), then walk sideways: step, together, step, together. Next, I had them (still facing the wall, even touching it lightly for stability) walk sideways doing “grapevines” – cross over step, step, cross behind. These are both great exercises to help with balance and agility. They’re the same exercises I do for running, slowed way down, but still working the same muscles.

As my parents get older, I want to make sure they retain good stability and mobility. It’s so important for their health, their independence,  and for their peace of mind. But this focus on stability is important for all of us, at any age, especially anyone who has been injured or been weakened by illness or surgery. These are some of the same exercises I’ve done after my long surgeries and recoveries to get myself back on solid ground.

Julie

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