I Can’t Stand Up!

My legs don’t work anymore!

As we get older things start to change; no mystery there. I’m not talking about grey hairs, bald patches, dentures, failing eyesight, dementia…er…er… what was I saying?

No, I mean those changes that happen spontaneously. Dress sense for example; at what point do we suddenly lose all fashion sense? You can tell someone’s old when, all of a sudden, its polyester slacks and nylon shirts for men; pleated skirts, nylon blouses and shapeless jackets for women; all in boring pastel colours. For those who’ve reached that point in life here’s the M&S on-line catalogue.

The change that puzzles me the most though is, just when do people stop using their legs to stand up? Anyone who’s worked with the elderly will know what I mean. They sit hunched up in their easy chairs and, when asked to get up, whinge “I can’t, my legs don’t work”. When you watch them try and stand up its obvious what the problem is. They’ve stopped using their legs!! They struggle, trying to hoist their (usually flabby, obese) torsos out of the chair by using only their arms. You can watch them valiantly attempt to lever themselves up like a gymnast on the parallel bars; not a hint of assistance from their legs. Not surprisingly they crash back down again, all out of breath, huffing and puffing that they can’t stand up.

Nonsense! Of course you can! That’s why God gave us thighs: to stand up.

If I’m feeling in the mood, and the patient seems receptive, then I might try a bit of Alexander Technique on them. I’m not an AT teacher but I’ve had it done to me, its good fun.

Shuffle their bums to the edge of the seat; heels against the chair so that their centre of gravity is more or less over their heels; keep their head up (don’t know why they need to look at their feet, they should know where they are by now); then get them to gently lean forwards while at the same time using their thighs to stand.


Now then, there’s a surprise! They stood up; and not a bicep or tricep muscle involved. Fancy that!


Trouble is, now they’ve got no excuse about being waited on hand and foot just because they can’t stand up.


F.M. Alexander: the master of poise and elegance.

Cartoon from Balance Online


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