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    A Knee-Friendly Way to Get Up and Down

    By Cinder Ernst–

    Summer is coming … even to San Francisco. You might want to relax on the grass at Dolores Park or sit on the beach. Maybe you’d like to take a yoga class, but you’re worried about your current state of fitness. Many people tell me, for example, that their sore knees make it hard for them to get up from the floor or ground. In this column, I’m going to offer a knee-friendly way to do so.

    This method is named the Modified Bear Crawl System or MBCS. You’ll discover a step by step way to get down and back up. I’ll also give you small steps that will help you to be able to implement the MBCS if it’s too much right now. At a certain point in the implementation, you will be bent over with your butt in the air! A sarong works beautifully if you’re in a bathing suit.

    The steps in the MBCS are:

    • Football huddler
    • Hands to floor one at a time
    • Modified bear crawl to hand plank
    • Lower yourself
    • Flip to sitting
    • Reverse

     The football huddler is a position that will set you up for the MBCS. Before I explain how to do it you should know that this gem of a position will relieve back pain while you’re walking, enable you to pick up something from the ground safely and help you to get up and down from a chair without using your arms. I suggest that you stand up right now and give this a try. (You can see a video of this if you search YouTube “lower back relief with Cinder Ernst.”)

    We named this move the football huddler because, well, football players do it when they’re in a huddle. Stand with your feet a bit further apart than hip width. Once you get the hang of the football huddler, you do these next four steps pretty much at the same time: stick your butt out slightly, lean forward a bit, put your hands on your thighs and bend your knees slightly. If it feels friendly, you can bounce a bit right here.

    Once you’re in the football huddler stance, your back is supported, your knees are safe and you can move the whole position a bit lower towards the ground. Now try resting your forearms or elbows on your thighs for a low football huddler. From this position you can pick something up from the floor. You can do alternate hand taps. Or you can proceed to the next step.

    Hands to the floor one at a time is just what it sounds like. From the low football huddler, suck in your stomach (what we call an abdominal scoop). Next, put one hand on the ground and then the other. If you are feeling uncertain, you can practice just this piece for a few days until you feel comfortable and then proceed to the next step.

     Modified bear crawl to hand plank refers to “walking” your hands forward on the ground. Your feet stay where they are, but you will lift your heels. As you walk your hands forward, your body flattens out. Now you can begin to lower your front body to the ground from the bottom up.

    Lower yourself. This portion requires some strength, so you might want to get stronger by walking your hands out and back a few times and then standing up. You also need your ankles and feet to be flexible to protect your knees; the top of your foot will come down first.  When you are strong enough, you will lower yourself to the ground.

     Flip to sit. You can lower to one butt cheek and find yourself sitting.

    Reverse. When you’re getting back up, start on your belly and toes. Then scoop your abs and push yourself up and back with your arms. Bend your knees as you walk your hands back towards your thighs and the football huddler. Then push off your thighs and stand up.

    Work on MBCS one step at a time. Wall, counter and coffee table planks will all help you to get strong enough to do this. Ankle pumps will help your feet to have flexibility. Go slow and steady.

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Her book, “Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser” ( http://cinderernst.com/easy-fitness-book/ ), is available in paperback and E-book. She specializes in fitness and rehab for plus-size clients, but her stress-free approach is suitable for all. Find out more at http://cinderernst.com