Activities of Daily Living – How to make them work for us.

How are your ADL’s?


You go to the gym regularly, you are selective about what you eat and you get plenty of sleep.  Heck, you have even taken up yoga! (bonus points from me for that last one…)  But how are your ADL’s?  My cholesterol you say – it’s fine…. LDL’s and HDL’s are both at healthy levels – no I am not talking cholesterol – I am talking about ADL’s – Activities of Daily Living.  How do you move on a day to day basis, day in and day out?  We often pay particular attention to how we move in sport, and we may even pay attention to static postures (how we sit, ergonomic assessments done, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees, orthopaedic pillow) and this is all good practice, but how do you move?  If you are walking, climbing stairs, transferring from sitting to standing, or back to sitting – how are you moving?  How about lying to sitting?  Have you ever thought about how to move to make the best use of your body, and to best ensure you do not overuse an area of your body, and under use another?  Every movement we do in our lives can serve us not only in the action we are doing, but also as an opportunity to remind (train) our brains to move our bodies how they were meant to move.  Let’s take a look at some movements we all do daily, and how they can best be performed to serve us well!  You can even use these three movements as a starting point for beginning more physical activity.


  1. Sitting to standing, and standing to sitting.


When performing this activity, many people use momentum to get to standing, and simply drop back into the seated position.  When performed properly, this activity is a great opportunity to train your core, your balance, and train proper weight transfer.  From sitting, slide to the edge of your seat, and slide your feet in toward the chair.  Place your hands in the crease at the front of your hips.  “Fold” at your hip crease, while maintaining a straight spine, so the strong leg muscles (quadriceps above the knees, and the gluts, or bottom muscles) perform the work of pushing you upright, and the spinal musculature maintain good spinal alignment.  Be sure to keep the knees hip width apart and in line with your feet.  So, as you fold at the hip, you push the floor away with your feet to come into an erect posture.  To return to sitting, stand back on to the chair so you can feel the chair at the back of your legs.  Repeat the hip crease fold, spine straight, as you slower lower to the chair.  Repeat this movement 3-4 times slowly, and feel how your heart rate rises, as you are working the 2 largest muscle groups in your body – loading the areas built to take the load, and sparing the areas not meant to do so.  Now do this EVERY time you move from sit to stand to sit.  This way, with every sit to stand and stand to sit movement you are using the muscle groups as they are meant to be used. You may need to use the chair arms due to weakness or pain.  This can also be done while ensuring the fold is at the groin area as you move from sit to stand, and stand to sit.


  1. Climbing stairs.


Have you ever noticed when you climb the stairs you tend to lean forward?  We need to keep in mind that climbing the stairs is like climbing a ladder – we are pushing ourselves UP the steps, not forward into the steps.  As you place your foot on the step – shift your weight forward over the foot on the step – push the step away and you will be pushing yourself upstairs.  Once again, ensure you keep your knee in line with your foot as you step. It’s that simple!  And when going down, lower the descending leg slowly onto the step, keeping the loaded knee and foot in line.  ALWAYS hold the handrail if there is one – as this will help train balance, and ensure if you lose your footing you can recover rather that tumble!


  1. Sitting to lying, and lying to sitting.


This is another activity most of us do at least twice a day.  To lie down, sit on the side of your bed, and lie onto your side.  If you want to lie on your back, bend both of your knees, and roll in one piece onto your back.  To go from your back to your side, straighten the leg on the side you want to roll onto, and bend the opposite leg.  Using the bent leg push the foot into the bed as you roll onto your side. To go from lying to sitting, always go completely onto your side, bend your knees and hips, and drop your feet and lower legs over the side of the bed as you push yourself to sitting.


Ensure you are breathing as you move, and bring your focus to these movements, and you will also be incorporating mindfulness into the practice of performing these three Activities of Daily Living.


To Do's

Meet the Author

Donna Donna has a keen interest in learning how things work - and this has taken her on many wonderful journeys! She even invited herself into the cab of an internationally-renowned pain specialist as they were both on the way to the airport following a course he had given - that one-to-one time gave her the opportunity to gather some key pieces to the puzzle of pain!
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