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We all know (whether we do it or not!) that staying physically active and fit is good for our health and can make every day activities feel easier. The trick with becoming a grandparent, is that all of a sudden, “every day activities” may change…. Suddenly and substantially!

The joy seniors feel associated with spending time with and taking care of grandchildren can be overshadowed by physical discomfort during and after those precious times together. I have helped many clients through a physiotherapy treatment program to recover from these kinds of injuries. In many cases, the injuries (and a course of physiotherapy!) could have been avoided with the right preparation ahead of time.

Grand-parenting is a sport.

In order to be able to grandparent with ease, seniors should consider it in that context. When we look at how athletes train to perform best and reduce their risk of injury, we see that they prepare specifically for the demands of their sport. It should be no different for seniors who are current or soon-to-be grandparents.

The demands associated with grand-parenting young children include getting up and down from the floor regularly, repeated bending to the floor (think toys, toys and more toys), heavy lifting and carrying (when did two-year-olds get so heavy?!), “keeping up” in games like tag and more. It’s easy to see how these activities could lead to injuries requiring physiotherapy treatment. Physiotherapy treatment can be (and should be!) enjoyable but no-one wants to be sidelined by an injury that was avoidable.

In addition to treating injuries, physiotherapy care also involves considering the risks associated with certain activities and building a plan to reduce the likelihood of injury ahead of time. Taking a proactive physiotherapy approach that involves building strength, balance, mobility, proprioception and endurance can help seniors cope with the many demands of the sport of grand-parenting!
Strengthening exercises are important for the legs, arms, back and abdominals. Using a proactive physiotherapy approach and incorporating exercises like squats, bicep curls and holding the plank position can help seniors carry their grandchild with greater ease. It can also ensure seniors can provide that important “assist” at the playground without getting hurt themselves!

Balance work is important in any proactive physiotherapy program. It should involve both static balance (standing still) and dynamic balance (moving) exercises. Seniors can benefit from a static balance exercise by standing on one foot for 10-15 seconds. For dynamic work, seniors can practice stepping patterns on the floor to improve their coordination and ability to make quick changes in direction (think about how this could improve agility while playing “tag”!).

In physiotherapy, the word mobility is used a lot. Mobility refers to the ease with which movement is done. Improving mobility can make it easier for seniors to reach the toys on the floor or get down to the floor (and back up!). These movements require good flexibility and control in the lower back and hips. Often practicing these activities (with the right technique!) is some of the best grand-parenting-specific training seniors can do.

Building endurance is achieved through activities like walking, cycling and swimming. In terms of intensity when doing these activities, seniors can use the “talk test”; the body should be working hard enough that singing is hard but talking is relatively easy. The more endurance seniors build using this physiotherapy approach, the more likely they’ll make it past 2pm with the grandchildren without needing a nap!

Like any fitness routine, the exercises that will be most impactful and safest for seniors will depend on their starting point. Connecting with a physiotherapist to set up an individualized proactive physiotherapy plan to build a grand-parenting functional fitness routine is a great way to reduce injury risk and maximize enjoyment of all the crawling, lifting and chasing they want!

Book an assessment with Zoomers

Use our online booking tool to find a time that works for you!