The Benefits of Using a Standing Frame

Category: Training Tips

Standing Frames & Frappuccinos

This blog will eventually talk about the benefits of standing; passively, by way of standing frame, (and actively for those that are able). For now, though, I’m going to share with you an idea that I had jokingly come up with during a workout with a client of mine… I now think this is brilliant and I urge someone to take this idea and run with it!

It all started when my client Serena and I were chatting after our session while she was on the standing frame at the gym (Serena, who is a T-10 paraplegic). We both chatted for a while, using the standing frame as her cool down/recovery stretch from our workout together. 

There was another standing frame facing directly across from Serena’s frame and eventually someone got on it, a man we will call Patrick.

Before we knew it, we were all having an awesome three-way conversation. During talking Serena had said she was thirsty, so I ran to the café outside to buy her a bottled water.  I placed it on her standing frame desktop next to her phone, and I realized that Patrick had a coffee cup on his frame too.

Then it hit me.

It had occurred to me that I had an awesome idea:  An adaptive tea and coffee bar that had standing frames!  This way anyone with a disability could come inside, order a nice hot beverage, socialize with others, all the while getting their stand in! 

This venue would create community, socializing, and an outlet for people to get some access to frames, (especially since not everyone is able to have a standing frame at their house). I even imagined the name of this awesome café being called The Standing Room.

Okay, now that I have shared my idea with the world, let’s talk about the facts of standing!

Regardless of your injury or disability, standing will benefit you in many ways. *Please keep in mind that if you have access to a standing frame somewhere in your community, you will most likely need a written letter of approval from your doctor to be able to utilize a standing frame. 

Nonetheless, here are some of the most beneficial reasons to using a standing frame:

1) Standing Frames help to increase bone density and decrease your risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Anyone that uses a wheelchair, scooter or is non-weight bearing for most of their day are at a much greater risk for these conditions than someone who is able-bodied.

2) Standing enhances your blood circulation abilities

This can also help regulate your blood pressure (If you are a tetraplegic or a high-level paraplegic, I’m certain you know all about wonky blood pressures!).

3) Standing aids in improving digestion, bowel and bladder function.

Our bodies are designed in a way to be up on two feet, walking and running in some form. So, our different internal body systems are also designed to support that upright, erect position. When we sit in a chair all day and take away some or most of the tone in our torso and abdominal wall, we start to compromise the function of our internal systems, especially digestion.

4) Using a Standing Frame can help stretch out your soft tissues such as muscles and fascia.

This becomes important when dealing with the management of spasticity or muscle contractures.

5) Standing improves skin integrity

The standing frame does this by relieving any apparent pressure sores for sitting in a chair or scooter.

Common Questions about Standing Frames

I would like to share with you two of the most common questions I get from clients about standing: 

When should use a standing frame, before or after my workout, and how long should I stand for?

Let’s start by addressing the first question.

There is at least one study floating out there with regards to when a good time to stand is. Between this and from my experience of working with clients, it is best to stand after you work out. 

You can think of standing in a frame as an isometric hold of a stretch: Essentially you are elongating your trunk and gravity is gently sending your pelvis and lower extremities down towards the floor. This creates a lengthening within the soft tissue (your muscles and fascia).

Have you ever had a really good massage? After a massage you feel relaxed, and your muscles have been temporarily lengthened because of that kneading the therapist did. Amazing right? Odds are, the last thing on your mind after a great massage is to go get in a workout.

You can treat the standing frame like this. If you were to try and do a workout after this, it would not only feel different but can increase your risk of injury due to the new muscle length that has been created from 10-45 plus minutes standing passively. This leads to answering the next question…

Your time spent on the standing frame varies depending on certain objectives.

As a rule, it is better and safer to start with less time and see how you feel later. Remember, you can always work your way up to clocking more time standing. Some helpful questions to consider answering for yourself are:

·        Have I been cleared by my doctor to stand?

·        When did I last eat? *

*(This can affect blood pressure and feelings of lightheadedness. Having some type of snack at least a couple of hours before going on a standing frame is always a good idea.

·        Considering I must transfer onto the standing frame, complete my stand session and then get off the frame, will this leave me with enough energy to get on with my day afterwards?

The last thing you want to do is get stuck on the standing frame because you used up all your energy doing your workout! Take into consideration the big picture of your activity for that day. Plan ahead.

The takeaway with all of this is to try incorporating standing into your weekly routine. For some new guided gym routines to compliment your standing, please click here. 

Whether it be a cooldown after a workout, or an activity you do while watching TV.  Who knows, maybe one day we can meet at the Standing Room and grab a tea?

Your Coach,

Megan Williamson  

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