Monday, May 20, 2013

Summer's Coming - Can You Get off Your Sand Chair Gracefully?

Can you get up from a sand chair without grunting like tennis star Maria Sharapova?

 While on vacation, I sat on the beach watching people haul themselves up from their sand chairs emitting all kinds of animal-like sounds accompanied by comical facial contortions. The big Uhh! resounded in the sea air as some pressed their hands on the arms of their canvas seat, as if performing a tricep press.  Honestly, it doesn’t have to be so difficult to raise yourself from a few inches above the sand. If you rely on your core strength, especially that of your glutteals (buttocks, butt, bum, tush whatever you want to call it) and your thigh muscles, you really can lift yourself gracefully. Others will gaze at you with admiration, silently congratulate you for your strength and ease and wish they could do the same. Wouldn’t that make you feel terrific? And how about those low to the ground lounge chairs that don’t even have arms? You really don’t want to topple off the end as you attempt to stand up with the chair flipping over your back. And I doubt you want to fall to your knees on the sand and then hold on to the edge of the plastic webbing and force yourself into an upright position.  Yes, you always can rely on a friend to give you a helping hand, but what if you’re on the beach by yourself enjoying the sun, listening to the sound of the waves as you devour a good novel? Are you going to ask a stranger to help lift you off your chair? I doubt it. So, let’s take a look at how to use your core to gracefully come to a standing position from low down near the sand.

 First thing: Pull your abdominals in. Next: Place your hands on your thighs, or the arms of the chair if you have them and must. Then: Gently squeeze your buttocks and thigh muscles; plant your feet and lift your bum off the chair. Rely on your buttocks, thighs, and feet and only use your arms for support. 

Of course, this post is assuming you have both of your legs in full working order. A little arthritis shouldn’t change anything. Actually, it should make you try a little harder to use your core and not rely on your arms. A friend of mine who ‘d recently had a knee replacement shocked herself when she followed my directions and actually stood up without huge grunts and groans or falling face-down into the sand.

 I assume you would like to be able to get off a chair, by yourself, for the rest of your life. And not only a sand chair – any kind of chair. And how about a toilet? OK, let’s not go with that image, although it is a reality.

I know there is an easy answer to all this. You might be saying, “Who needs to go through all those maneuvers? Why not just buy an up-right chair?”  Sure, you can do that. But, in my opinion, they’re just not as comfortable. I tried one and didn’t like the fact that there was no place to rest my head and no way to recline. Oh! The trials of sitting on the beach…

Back to fitness: For exercises to strengthen your core, I invite you to read some of my previous blog posts:  1/28/12, 5/18/12, 11/16/12. But even without doing that, tighten those bellies and bums, use your thighs and lift yourself from a seated position to standing one with aplomb.
So, lather yourself in sunscreen, grab a good book, your chair and sunglasses, and head to the beach. Enjoy!

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