Push Ups - the best kept secrets for caregivers core and low back strength and endurance development.

Push Ups

one exercise fits all.

Young or Old, push ups are great strengthening for elderly patients aging in their own homes Push ups? You learned them in first grade or earlier. Seems we learned all the basics of life back then. What was the name of that popular book about learning everything we needed to know in kindergarten? I'm not sure that fitness was mentioned.

Patients and caregivers alike are hard workers in different ways. Often the work demands of caregivers and the increasing weakness of patients puts both in the path of injury, strains, chronic pains and further weakness.

Push ups are easy to do - really! And the strengthen most of your upper body not to mention the core stability you develop while doing them at any level. Push ups have a bad rep to those who have only one picture in their minds... well, get ready for another picture that meets you were you are at and progresses you from there!

what's a push up anyway?

According to wikipedia a push-up is "a common strength training exercise performed in a prone position, lying horizontal and face down, raising and lowering the body using the arms." WRONG!! Well, half wrong... a push up uses the arms to push your body weight while straightening your arms. You don't have to be in the prone (horizontal) position! You can start standing - even lying down!

They are a basic exercise used in civilian athletic training or physical education and, especially, in military physical training and will develop the pectoral muscles and triceps, with ancillary benefits to the deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis and the midsection as a whole.

Basics covered... now for some practicality in implementing this free upper body builder into your time crunched routine. Remember, it's about your health, your fitness and keeping fitness or getting you fit through your care giving process.

Push-ups are the best upper body exercises you can do. Squatting, pushing and pulling are the three main areas of the world we function in. As we age, we squat less, and our spines curve so that our world now consist of a tiny 2-3 foot sphere in front of us...if we are lucky. This scrunches our lungs down, and rounds our shoulders out to a debilitating degree.

Push-ups not only greatly enhance your ability to push and to maintain it, but it really builds your back muscles in a stabilizing fashion. In other words, you aren't building muscles by pulling (which would normally work the back muscles), but by them working to stabilize your body as you push.

On a more advanced note, you are working concentrically on pushing, eccentrically on lowering, and somewhat isometrically on back and scapular muscles stabilizing through the process. At the same time expanding chest muscles and cavity for increased oxygen consumption while breathing resulting in more energy!

i can't do a push up.

Not so fast! I knew you had only one picture in your mind but let me help you understand the process. Once you understand the basics of what you are trying to do, you can modify almost any exercise to any level of ability!

Push-ups use your body weight as a weight stack. Any time muscles work perpendicular or opposite to the pull of gravity, they work hard! The task may seem impossible since your muscles are working opposite and perpendicular to the pull of gravity.

So, if pushing against gravity sounds or is impossible at this time, we can still modify any exercise to meet your muscles where they are at yet give them room to get stronger.


Stand at a wall and pretend that wall is the floor. Now proceed with the exercise. Hands slightly shoulder width apart, core (back and belly) tight. Keep your body stiff and inhale as you come towards the wall with your forehead. Exhale as you push away keeping your trunk perfectly straight. No sticking your tail end out to kiss the wall... if that happens, scoot your feet in towards the wall more.

how to do a modified push up off a couch for strength training in home health physical therapy exercise programs As you get stronger and this gets easier, back your feet up a bit further (be careful not to slip on tile or hardwood floors!). Once the angle of your arm to your side in the finished position is greater than 90 degrees, it's time to find a counter top or high couch and progress from there. This exercise progression is illustrated here.

can I stop now?

Good question. There are many theories out there about how many sets and reps but I promised you better fitness in 5 minutes a day right? You won't be sorry when you add push ups to your home workout routine.

So, here's a good formula to start with - but it's only a formula... some people want to know exactly what to do. Others just need the concept and they will progress on their own...

one exercise at a time.

Plugging this one exercise alone into our interval training formula will look like this:

  • Modified exercise for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Modified exercise for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 more times.

Your modified progression routine will look like this:

  • Using the wall as your base.
  • Progress to the kitchen counter.
  • Progress to the back of a couch.
  • Progress to the sitting part of a couch with legs extended fully or down on your knees.
  • Progress to floor push-ups on your knees
  • Remember that the closer your hands are to your knees, the higher your bottom will be in the air and the easier it will be.
  • The further away your hands are from your knees the more your body will be parallel to the floor and the more difficult it will become.
  • Progress from knee push ups (on the floor) to hands and feet push ups.
  • THAT is the picture you had in your mind and I don't care how long it takes you to get there...work at YOUR own level.
ramp it up for a challenge!

Try these variations for a challenge and ramped up strength training!

  • Dive bomber or hindu pushups.
  • Offset your hands with each push ups.
  • Plyometric push-ups.
  • Push up slide outs - sliding one hand out on a paper plate on the down part and back in on the up part.
  • Spiderman push ups - do a push, then spider crawl to the left one step on all fours, repeat your push up and spider crawl back one step on all fours.

Push ups are the queen of upper body strength and simple. Caregivers can find their own level of challenge and ask the home care physical therapist to help the patient find their level of challenge. Patients can start by lying in bed and pushing their horizontal cane up and down toward the ceiling. Add a weight to the cane to make it tougher etc etc.


How To Combine Push Ups and Interval Training

Ready For Sit Ups?

Adding Strong Legs to Your Home Exercise Program

Don't Let Your Health Go Down The Obamacare Drain!

More great resources for caregivers and patients!

Get It!


Get It Now.

* indicates required

[?] Subscribe Now

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines

Copyright © home-health-care-physical-therapy.com | all rights reserved.
View the mandatory privacy policy and terms of use, which you agree to by using this site.