Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Benefits of Standing

Near and dear to my mind are the benefits of standing.  Research indicates that standing is healthy for everybody, leading to trends such as the standing desk.  Many sites such as EasyStand and provide informative research and links.  Being upright is especially important after long times of sitting or lying down, when blood pressure variations can be a serious and even lethal problem.  This is why rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury (SCI) begins with learning to sit up again, then moving to tilting tables or standing frames as possible.

With SCIs, standing is about more than exercise.  It involves helping with blood pressure changes, developing core strength, promoting bone density, decreasing nerve pain, enhancing psychological health, and more.  (How much would you miss eye contact at eye level?)

So why this is near and dear to me?  Released from rehabilitation, I had been told to expect nothing significant beyond some slight hip movement.  Personally, my progress looked like it was grinding to a now-or-never halt when therapy stopped.  Nerve and back pain, living logistics, and muscle memory were all big factors in looking for ways to be on my feet.  Trial-and-error included everything that seemed remotely feasible: pulling up against a stool, standing supported against the edge of a couch, etc.

Well, everything but the kitchen sink - that came on Jan. 1, 2014, when I began propping up against the counter with pillows and holding on.  The first time lasted for four minutes, with increasing amounts in daily intervals, growing to fourteen hours by that spring.  Hardly an easy or perfect solution (not for osteoporosis anyway; more on that another time), and probably not recommended - but it helped me, and I was regaining muscle control and taking supported steps by the end of it.  And by the summer, my knees were occasionally holding me up unsupported.
Recurring disclaimer: This site is never intended to give medical advice or claim that the kitchen sink is a standing frame to replace other techniques.  Standing with braces has also been a great part of my recovery (see video links below).  These posts are about sharing my story and encouraging others to think outside of the box for ways to pursue mobility and health.  Brainstorming, like standing, has its benefits!

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