29 Jul Standing on Your Own Two Feet, Literally
Buttock muscles are more important than abdominals for ease of standing – assuming yours are strong enough. Strong legs, ankles, and feet also play a role. With so much sitting nowadays, any length of standing leads to sore backs for many people, often because their buttocks aren’t doing enough to properly align the pelvis.
Of course strong abdominals help, but gluteus maxima muscles are bigger and stronger. And it’s so easy to throw in some buttock clenches whenever you find yourself standing, waiting in line, washing dishes, sanding shelves. Walking also helps to strengthen buttocks.
You don’t need to set aside exercise time if you take opportunities throughout the day to strengthen your legs. Climb stairs as often as you can, or take them two at a time if you’re able. Walk up hills. Get up from sitting without using your arms. Squat down instead of bending over when you need to open a low drawer or pick up something from the floor. Instead of leaning over the sink to brush your teeth, bend your knees to get your mouth closer to the sink.
Calves, ankles, and feet
For stronger calves, ankles, and feet, walk around on tiptoe. If you’re outside walking up hills, go up on tiptoe. When you’re waiting for the toast to pop or the kettle to boil, hang onto the counter and go up on your tiptoes, or go up on tiptoe one leg at a time.
Strong buttocks, legs, ankles and feet will also improve your balance, and practicing your balance will help to strengthen the muscles. Think about how you get dressed or take off shoes and socks. Can you do this while standing, or have you been sitting to do these things?
If you’re standing around waiting for someone or something, try standing on one leg. An easy way to learn to balance on one leg (and strengthen all your standing muscles) is to keep the other foot resting on the floor with just the tip of the big toe. And remember to tighten your buttocks – and abdominal muscles, legs, ankles and feet – when you stand on one leg, to help stabilize yourself.
I once saw an older man on the street who couldn’t step up the curb onto the sidewalk without help, and we may all reach that stage someday. We can delay that time by keeping our muscles as strong as we can, just by using our muscles and bodies more consciously as we go about our daily activities, and doing more standing and walking.