MOST PEOPLE SEE see a chair and think how nice it would be to sit down. Chairs, however, are apparatus. Not only that, once you have them they are free to use, there are many variations and they are everywhere. How you choose to use your chairs depends on your need, capabilities and your imagination.
Bonnie first discovered the chair as apparatus after her skiing accident in which she fractured her pelvis in four places. The three months of casting which accompanied the fractures left her without strength and feeling very old at the young age of twenty-two. One day her home nurse turned on music as she was cleaning up the room and Bonnie, the trained dancer, had to move. She began her, by a mistake, rehab sitting on the edge of the bed but the next day graduated to the chair and eventually to the ocean.
The next time she recognized the chair as apparatus was when she was asked to speak to the ladies in the Osborne Home. They were all over 70. Under Bonnie’s guidance they tapped, kicked, swung, lifted, pushed and pulled their way to feeling like 60 in only 8 weeks.
If you are coming back from an illness or surgery and are in no shape at all, begin in the chair. Chair exercise increases circulation and flexibility, reduces fatigue, strengthens muscles and is more fun if music is added. Chair exercises are a bridge between sitting and walking. Once you start you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in a chair.
President Kennedy had rocking chairs. They were “prescribed” for him because he had back pain. Rocking chairs use your muscles as you rock and different rocking chairs use your muscles in different ways. And they do so gently.
I’ve had to use a chair myself after a car accident when my knee was severely damaged. The doctor who knew me prescribed self-help Myotherapy three times a day. I asked if I could do chair exercise. I did – but rather than sitting I used it for support while I stood behind it – performing as many exercises as I could each day before heading for the pool for more work.
- Standing behind the chair you can do modified push-ups, knee-to-nose, knee bends, or swing your leg over the back of the chair. You can reach your leg around to touch the seat or the rung.
- Standing in front you can perform high steps as you touch your foot to the seat, alternating legs. To make your push-up more difficult, place the arch of both feet on the seat and your hands on the floor.
- A folded folding chair can be used as a weight and can be quite weighty. Lifting and swinging it in a variety of ways and in different directions works the entire body building strength, flexibility and endurance.
Whether you are confined to a chair, recovering from something like a hip replacement, accident, a long illness or just need to begin from scratch, think THE CHAIR.
Check out Bonnie’s Gym In A Chair in these books: Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way, Bonnie Prudden’s After Fifty Fitness Guide and How to Keep Your Family Fit and Healthy.
GYM IN A CHAIR
- Knee to Nose
Lift first the right knee to the nose and then the left. Repeat 8 times on each side.
- Knee Cross
Cross first right knee over left. Then left over right. As you grow stronger and more limber, sit back in the chair and lift the knees higher and higher as you cross them. 8 crosses on each leg equals one set.
- Toes In / Toes Out
Take your shoes off. Sit with feet about one foot apart. Keep heels off the floor and turn both feet inward, then outward. Repeat 20 times.
- Heel Raises
Place feet side by side with heels pushed under your chair so that your legs bend at the ankle. Raise heels by keeping the balls and toes of your feet on the floor. Lower. After 10 raises with both feet, alternate with first one and then the other for 10 each.
- Arm Lifts
Place hands on the arms of your chair and raise your seat; lower slowly. If it is too hard to raise yourself, start at the top with straight arms and your seat off the chair – now lower slowly. Start with two and add one a week until you are doing 10. As soon as possible, raise your feet from the floor.
- Knee Bends
Place hands on the back of a chair for support. Do 8 half knee bends. Go lower as strength improves until you are doing 8 full knee bends.
- Knee to Nose
Place your hands on the seat of the chair. Bring your knee as close to your nose as you can and then kick the leg out in back. Repeat 8 times.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®