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Strength – Why Do You Need It?
WITH PHYSIOTHERAPIST ELRINA VAN ZYL

The word “Strength” conjures up images of bulky forearms and rippling muscles – something most women don’t want so they avoid any form of weight lifting and bodyweight exercise. However, we all need to be strong in order to do what we want and need to do; especially as we get older.

Fit for purpose

I sometimes see patents who have been normally active and would be regarded as being quite sprightly until they have a fall and suffer a fracture. At that point they end up seeing me, not because of the immediate injury, but because they simply haven’t got the strength to use their crutches to get around or go up and down stairs. Sadly, although I work hard with these patients to help mitigate their lack of strength it will affect both their immediate and longer-term recovery.

We hear all the time that we should do weight bearing exercise to prevent osteoporosis and keep strong but walking occasionally and gardening isn’t enough. You need to get strong and stay strong, as it is far better to improve our strength now, before we have an accident.

The important thing to realise is that you don’t suddenly become weak when you get older. It’s a constant neglect, with adjustments being made to situations where you can’t do something you should be able to do, that builds up over time.

We need to keep challenging ourselves, regardless of our age. Start with what you can do and set goals for the next more functional thing you’d like to be able to do.

Sometimes we are just too scared or embarrassed to try something new, but whatever the reason we stay rooted in our seats the result is the same. There is no change and no learning. Which means we don’t stretch ourselves to become stronger and more functional.

So, some challenges for you. Can you:

• Get up from a seat without using your hands?

• Get up easily from the floor? How many parts of your body do you need to do that? Can you do it with no hands?

• Squat down to the floor… and come back up?

• Stand on one leg – for more than 30 secs without holding on?

• Do a push up? If not from the floor, from the coffee table or kitchen counter?

• Lift your bottom off a hard surface when you’re sitting using your arms?

• Lift your bottom when you’re lying on your back?

If you’re struggling with any or all of these, it’s time to get moving, get stronger and become more functional.

Give us a call if you’d like some help, advice or ideas on how to incorporate some basic bodyweight movements into everyday life. But don’t think you’ll do it later – there are 7 days in the week and “Someday” isn’t one of them!

Elrina

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