Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Does Your Carpet Keep Tripping You? Work on Ankle Mobility!

GettyImages-185211535 (1) Ankle MobilityTell me if this has ever happened to you: You are fast asleep in your warm, comfy bed. In the middle of that perfect sleep, you suddenly hear the telephone ringing. So you open your eyes, sit up, and slide your feet into your slippers. At this point, you are in a rush because you are now thinking that it could be an emergency. You take a few steps as quickly as you can to get to the phone, which happens to be all the way across the room. Suddenly, the front of your slipper nicks the carpet and you feel yourself going down and fast.

You reach for something to grab but find nothing to get ahold of, so you throw out your hands to try to stop yourself from hitting the floor too hard. Now you’re lying on the carpet in pain because your hands and arms hurt as well as anywhere else you may have hit your body on the way down.

Why Does the Carpet Hate You?

You then remember how the carpet used to be your friend at a very young age. You recall how you used to love the carpet so deeply that you would fall asleep on it at times. As you got older, the friendship seemed to fizzle out. Over the last few years, it seems as though your old friend has it out for you because every time you come across it, it takes you down—and down hard!

Fear not. There could be a much simpler solution to this problem than avoiding all carpet everywhere. Maybe the problem has more to do with your ankle mobility.

Ankle Mobility Exercises

Following are a few examples of exercises that you can do to improve your ankle mobility.

  • Seated heel raises: Sit at the edge of a chair and place both feet on the ground with both knees at a 90-degree angle. While keeping your toes on the ground, raise your heels up for a count of 2 and down for a count of 2. Try doing 2 sets of 20 repetitions with both feet. You can challenge yourself by holding a weight or a heavy book on your knees for added resistance.
  • Seated toe raises: Sit at the edge of a chair and place both feet on the ground with both knees at a 90-degree angle. While your heels stay on the ground, raise your toes up for a count of 2 and down for a count of 2. Try doing 2 sets of 20 repetitions with both feet.
  • Seated ankle stretches: Sitting on a chair, raise one leg so that your foot is no longer in contact with the ground. Point your toes up and down. Try to do this stretch without kicking your leg up and down. Try doing 2 sets of 30 seconds with both feet.
  • Seated ankle circles: Sitting in a chair, raise one leg, lifting the foot from the ground. While your leg is raised, move your foot around in circles. Try to do it without moving the entire leg. You really want to focus on only moving the foot. Try doing 2 sets of 30 seconds in both directions with both feet.

Moving Forward

Click here to get more information and images of exercises that you can do to improve your foot or ankle mobility. And click here to learn a little more about mobility and stability.

Let us know how your next encounter with that dreadful carpet went by commenting below.

NIFS Fitness Management's programming can also help residents improve their balance with regular exercise.  Check out how Balance Redefined is changing residents lives!

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Topics: mobility stability injury prevention senior fitness exercises

What Exercises Should I Do?: Guidelines for Senior Fitness (Part 4)

In my first, second, and third blogs of the series, I went over five of my guidelines to being successful in senior fitness:

  1. Muscle-Activation Exercises
  2. Simplistic Exercises
  3. Compound, Multi-joint, Closed-chain Movements
  4. Grip Exercises
  5. Mobility Work
In this fourth and final blog of the series, I discuss one more guideline:

Don't Change Exercises; Change the Intangibles and Variables of the Exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-95247776.jpgCertain exercises, such as the sit-to-stand and the seated row, should always be performed in one's routine. Certain experts recommend that one would eventually replace these exercises with a new one. The reasoning behind this is that it is believed that over time the muscles will grow accustomed to certain exercises and the effect will be lost. While this is slightly true, it's not true because of the exercise itself, but rather the variables of the exercise, such as the sets, reps, rest periods, tempo, etc.

By changing these variables, the CCRC resdient client will always have results and will continue to perform exercises that work the entire body in unison, such as the exercises in the preceding blogs. As a result, they will increase their performance in the daily activities of life.

After all, the more something is changed, the less that person will be good at it. If you want to get good at throwing a ball, you spend your time throwing a ball and not catching a ball. Well, the concept is the same with exercise. Constantly changing the exercises on someone will possibly give them results, but the question isn’t, "Is this person getting results?" Rather, the question is, "Is this the best way to do it?"

So, constantly changing the exercises may elicit a result, but we are looking for the best results; therefore, mastering and being consistent with basic, compound, multi-joint, closed-chain movements will help gain strength, increase lean muscle weight, increase mobility, work the body in unison, increase neurological activation, and lead to greater overall success.

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Topics: CCRC balance senior fitness change mobility exercises grip

What Exercises Should I Do?: Guidelines for Senior Fitness (Part 3)

In my first and second blogs of the series, I went over four of my guidelines to being successful in fitness:

  1. Muscle-Activation Exercises
  2. Simplistic Exercises
  3. Compound, Multi-joint, Closed-chain Movements
  4. Grip Exercises

In this third blog, I discuss another guideline.  

Guideline 5: Mobility WorkThinkstockPhotos-474645128.jpg

Mobility is the ability to move freely, pain free, and without issue throughout the range of motion of a particular joint. For instance, a client may have an issue getting into the position to do an exercise such as the sit-to-stand. One of the issues I see is related to tight ankles, which is a very common problem. With tight ankles, if the chair is in a low position, the client won't be able to keep their heels on the ground and will shift their weight to the front of the foot, opening the door to a fall or knee injury. To fix this area, I focus on three spots: range-of-motion exercises, stretching exercises (whether it is static or dynamic), and myofascial release exercises.

While stretching is important, too much of it may lead to joint laxity, which could lead to injury. Range-of-motion exercises, such as pointing and flexing with the foot, rolling the ankle around in full circles, and even calf raises will move the joint in its full range of motion and warm up the joints and muscles, which will allow for better stretching and injury prevention. Lastly, myofascial release will help loosen up that gristly tissue, which will lead to more mobility, therefore leading to increased performance, less injury, and better results.

Obviously, many CCRC residents won't be able to do foam rolling by using a foam roller on the floor, and I certainly don’t recommend that. Therefore, I recommend two tools: a mobility stick, which allows the resident to access problem spots on their own from a comfortable position, and a tennis ball, which is small enough to target certain spots, but not so hard that it may hurt too much, as myofascial release is always a bit uncomfortable. The tennis ball can be used while lying on an elevated mat or exercise table, or even used as a tool to loosen up the upper body by placing the ball on a wall and gently pressing the ball into the problem spot, such as the chest or mid back.

While mobility is an issue that affects many areas of the body, lack of ankle mobility is a common problem that I've seen, and you can apply the same mobility principles to many different areas other than the ankles.

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In my next blog, I give you my sixth and final guideline: Changing exercise variables.

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Topics: CCRC senior fitness stretching injury prevention mobility myofascial release foam rolling