Is the floor a foreign country?

Health, Seniors
man sitting on floor

When you’re a child, you belong on the floor!

As you get into your twenties, the floor is where you are sometimes – no big deal.

As you get older, the floor becomes a foreign place that you never visit. It’s just too complicated to get to it, too difficult to work out how to get down there. It doesn’t matter, because life is interesting up here in a comfy chair, watching television.

You may think that doesn’t matter. You don’t need to sit on the floor. Chairs and sofas are the place to be. You can stretch out and read a book, flick through your phone or watch a movie, hold a conversation, eat a meal – all while sitting in a comfortable chair.

You don’t need to sit on the floor. But if you can, it indicates that you have good control of your physical body, that you can easily shift your weight without falling and that you can co-ordinate the different parts of your body. Sitting on the floor or standing up from the floor may be one of the most complex body moves you do.

When I was in my early sixties, I could still get to the floor and get up from it, but it was slow, hesitant and difficult. I looked at the younger people in the gym, who clearly could get on and off the floor without thinking about it. I had to focus on it completely to do it safely.

As my body has got stronger from resistance/weight training, I can get on and off the floor much more easily. I’ve practiced it a lot.

You may not care that you can’t sit on the floor anymore, but you should care about what it says about the state of your body. Of course, some people cannot do it because of physical disability, but for most people it’s a lack of practice and strength.

I’m in my seventies now and can get on and off the floor much better than I could when I was in my fifties and sixties. The sense of accomplishment and freedom is worth a lot to me.

I recently spoke to John Gullick.  John is a health coach with a background in physiotherapy. In our interview he talks about the benefits of sitting on the floor, which posture is best and how to start doing it if it’s a long time since you’ve sat on the floor. John says:

“To become supple, interact with hard surfaces, to become stiff, interact with soft surfaces”

When you sit in a chair, your body doesn’t prompt you to keep moving. When you get up, you may feel stiff rom this lack of movement. You may blame the chair. In a way that’s true, but it’s because its’ too comfortable, not comfortable enough.

John also says :

“The best posture is the next one: we need movement, not “optimal” static positions. These basically don’t exist.”

You may think that you can’t just sit on the floor, but that’s not the idea. You will shift your weight and your legs into different positions, moving frequently as any position becomes uncomfortable.

John describes it as “strong medicine” so don’t spend a long time on the floor when you first start.

When you sit on the floor, you have to keep moving and adjusting your body. When you get down on the floor or stand up from the floor, you are engaging in a really complex set of movements, while you shift your weight and tense different parts of you.

Of course, if you are fragile or uncertain that you will be able to get back up off the floor, or worried that getting down there may hurt you, consult a physical therapist specialist.

We have lots more great interviews on my YouTube channel.