"oomph" for effort
August 8, 2020 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Do you sigh, grunt, or otherwise vocalize when getting up from seated positions (whether getting up from chairs, getting out of vehicles, standing up after sitting or lying down on the ground)? If you do (or someone you live with does), when did you start doing so and do you feel like vocalizing happens when you need to exert more effort?

I noticed that I started to make noises getting in and out of cars in my mid 30s. Just now, I was getting up after being on my belly on the carpet to get a good shot of one of the cats, and I made "ooof" noises as I got up. I know I have let my yoga practice slide since the pandemic started, but I made these kinds of noises even when I was more limber and stronger. Is it the mini, everyday version of the grunt that competitive weightlifters make?
posted by spamandkimchi to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I am in my later 50s. I make a noise that my kids say sounds like "oof a-grunt" when I get up from certain chairs and if I have been in a chair for a while. Also getting off the throne. I think it comes more from stiffness than needing more effort.
posted by AugustWest at 11:40 AM on August 8, 2020

Sigh. I recently realized that I am doing this. I'm coming up on 62. I'm still flexible and don't have any real difficulty getting up and down, but it does seem to take a bit more of an effort. Hence the "oomph".
posted by LaBellaStella at 11:45 AM on August 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

My brother, who is in his late thirties, said he a) noticed and b) realized he might want look into it when his toddler started making a surprisingly grunty ooof when she got up from the floor.
posted by hannala at 11:52 AM on August 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I am thirty and I do this. I do think it's because I need to exert more effort - I find that now, when I'm actually doing more walking and biking sort of general exercise, that I sort of stiffen up when I sit down. Getting off the sofa in the evenings is the worst.
posted by stillnocturnal at 11:57 AM on August 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I started doing that when I was in my early 40s. Then about 5 years ago I started weightlifting, which involved a LOT of core work, especially at the beginning to build core strength so I didn't damage my back doing lifts. It wasn't long before my then-girlfriend pointed out that I had stopped making 'old man noises' (her term) when I got up. So my theory is that it's all about the loss of core strength as your life gets more sedentary.
posted by overhauser at 12:00 PM on August 8, 2020 [7 favorites]

I do this but it's more for comedic effect. An old boss said that she started making positive "yes!" exclamations instead of grunting and groaning when e.g. climbing the stairs or getting up from a squat, and it made a difference to her state of mind!
posted by Balthamos at 12:14 PM on August 8, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I think it's mainly about maintaining blood flow to the head by tensing the abdomen to prevent blood from rushing to the lower body and legs as gravity would otherwise cause it to do when a person stands up.

Fighter pilots are trained to do it:
When executing a "positive G" maneuver like turning upwards the force pushes the pilot down. The most serious consequence of this is that the blood in the pilot's body is also pulled down and into their extremities. If the forces are great enough and over a sufficient period of time this can lead to blackouts (called g-induced Loss Of Consciousness or G-LOC), because not enough blood is reaching the pilot's brain. To counteract this effect pilots are trained to tense their legs and abdominal muscles to restrict the "downward" flow of blood. This is known as the "grunt" or the "Hick maneuver", both names allude to the sounds the pilot makes, and is the primary method of resisting G-LOCs. Modern flight suits, called g-suits, are worn by pilots to contract around the extremities exerting pressure, providing about 1G of extra tolerance.
posted by jamjam at 12:29 PM on August 8, 2020 [8 favorites]

I've done this for a while now (early 50s). I started doing this while I lived alone, it's more noticeable now that I live with my fiance and kids. I'm not sure if it's an "effort" thing so much as I'm aware of my body more when I move due to stiffness or whatever.
posted by jzb at 12:47 PM on August 8, 2020

OMG balthamos said what I was thinking. Around our late 30s my small group of biking friends and I started noticing each other do this even while exerting minimal energy (i.e. stepping off a curb) and I was like, “we’re starting to sound much older than we are.” After this realization we made an effort to retrain ourselves to say “yes!” and it worked, at least for me!
posted by oxisos at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

doesn't... doesn't everyone do this? heh. I'm mid 40s and strong (not flexible, but strong) and I do it... all the time. Certainly since my pregnancies began a decade and a half ago.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:00 PM on August 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

Here is a study meant to explore the clinical signs of fainting (syncope) due to lack of blood flow to the brain by putting subjects on a table in a supine position for ten minutes and then tilting it up to 70°:
Sounds were very diverse, including short grunting sounds, moaning, short snorts and heavy or stertorous breathing. Stertorous breathing only occurred in the slow-flat-slow group. Oral automatisms were seen in half of the subjects, and were diverse in nature; they consisted of movements of the lips, cheeks or tongue.
In these cases effort was not a factor because the subjects were lying passively on a table throughout.
posted by jamjam at 1:01 PM on August 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I do sometimes, but I don't feel like I *have* to. More like a comedic effect that's become a habit I don't even notice.
i.e., the "I could stop any time!" defense.
posted by ctmf at 1:24 PM on August 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

Yeah me too. Started around mid-40s, I guess, and now, stifling these noises might be a little difficult, even unpleasant.
posted by Rash at 1:26 PM on August 8, 2020

but I don't feel like I *have* to

By that I mean, I don't imagine it "helps" get out of the chair any, or that it's involuntary. It's more of a "God, I'm such a lazy-ass" remark to myself and others.
posted by ctmf at 1:27 PM on August 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

hmm, I feel faint when getting up quickly...maybe I should start grunting.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:59 PM on August 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I started doing this pretty early (early 40's?), and I always assumed that was because I'd spent so much of my childhood hearing my grandfather do it. Mainly it's when I'm in a very low comfy seat, maybe an occasional "hup" getting out of my car. For the most part I feel it's as much habit as anything.

Also, if anyone ever asks me about it I claim I'm "focusing my Chi". :)
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:06 PM on August 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I think for me it started during pregnancy - probably my second pregnancy, when I was 32 and my pelvis sort of fell apart in my third trimester. I got in the habit then and just kept doing it. It's not really very hard for me to get up nowadays.
posted by potrzebie at 2:36 PM on August 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm 65 now. I started to "oomf" a year-and-a-half ago after I damaged my knees in a fall. It's more from pain than from effort.
posted by SPrintF at 2:45 PM on August 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

wow, I’m so glad I’m not alone! I started in my early 40’s, and noticed it so much that last year, it was my New Year’s resolution to stop! (I wasn’t very successful in keeping that resolution.)
posted by Bohemian Sailor at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd say I started it within the last 5 or 6 years and I'm 53 now. I kind of revel in being a sufficiently old fart to get away with making these kind of noises. I sort of enjoy them.
posted by Chairboy at 3:38 PM on August 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I say, “Oy,” just like my grandfather used to; I’m in my mid-50s. I think I’ve been doing it for a while now, semi-ironically.
posted by holborne at 4:59 PM on August 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

I forgot to address the "humorous effect" in my previous comment, but that's definitely a factor. Lately I've taken to coming up with a different set of nonsense syllables to mutter/grumble each time - it's a fun personal challenge!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:01 PM on August 8, 2020

I turn 50 in December. I've been doing this for a while, it depends on what position I'm sitting in. If I'm silly enough to sit with my legs tucked under me in any way, I'll oof my way out of it. If I sit in a less constrained positioned, I'm less likely to make noise. It's noticeable enough when I do it that my wife has commented on it, for what it's worth.
posted by mollweide at 6:04 PM on August 8, 2020

Good lord. I know I've been doing it since before 30 as I have friends who taught their kids a trick: "what does booooooze say?" Ooofffurgh
posted by booooooze at 8:41 PM on August 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

With osteoarthritis in my knees, getting up from the couch or into and out of the car usually hurts. I sometimes make those noises, but more often I give myself a little pep talk (either in my head or subvocally because I live alone) along the lines of, ok you got this or come on, let's get it over with. I sometimes even prep myself by saying, yes it's going to hurt but only for a second or two and then it will be over and sometimes am surprised that it doesn't hurt as much as I anticipate.

I reckon if the noises help you, do it and don't feel ashamed of it.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:06 PM on August 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm 41 and in good shape, have been doing various forms of this for as long as I can remember. Sometimes comedic, sometimes absolutely necessary, often unconscious; usually a combination. I also do it to some extent while stretching or lifting weights, especially if I'm pushing myself to do one more rep. Definitely on some level comes from tightening my core, whether voluntarily or no.

Thinking about it, I'm almost positive that I started doing it in my teens in half-conscious imitation of the grandma who had a large hand in raising me.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I can only assume this is the same thing my cats do when they make little meowsy grunts when they jump or land from a jump. It's pretty good, and anyone who feels bad about making grunting noises when getting up, should think about how cats doing the same thing probably means it's A-OK.
posted by aubilenon at 1:40 PM on August 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

I make a lot of body movement sounds. Most of them I think are sort of balancing stress somehow, similar to what was described up-page about balancing blood pressure. I grunt and groan a lot. My job involves me lifting moderately heavy objects (mostly 30-60 lbs) regularly during the day and if the lift is particularly cumbersome I will usually emit a short vocalization while I bring the weight/balance under control.

I don't think it's anything to be ashamed about. Physical exertion is what it is, and people should be able to do whatever they need to do to make their exertion more comfortable/successful.

On edit: I'm 52. I've been doing this for at least 10 years.
posted by hippybear at 3:12 PM on August 9, 2020

Most all of my life I've done physical work. Often very heavy physical work. Lifting things. Pushing things. Pulling things. Lifting heavy sheets of 4'x12' firecode sheetrock over my head, climbing up onto sawhorses, positioning said sheets of rock into place, holding them in place with my head whilst nailing them up. Yes. Yes, I make noise. Making noise helps. Making noise gives me juice.

So I'm all the time kicking up a racket. One friend of mine in particular, it drives him mad. Good. His wife is also a moaner/groaner/oof/ach/oooooo/owww/etc and etc. Sometimes he just can't stand us. We drive him 'round the bend.


Recently I've noticed it rather a lot on this one bench I sprawl upon. It's over on the East Side, I'm about 9 miles into the 11 mile ride, I'm upwards of seventeen thousand different kinds of sweaty, and gungy and grungy and gross, I get to that bench, balance my bike against this other bench, dump my pack, dump my helmet, take off the goddamned mask that's made it so hard to breath and worse as the ride goes on, as it gets sweaty and gungy and gross and disgusting, I take it off and breath deep, finally. I make certain to dump my pack LOUDLY, I make certain to dump my helmet LOUDLY, I sortof position myself and then sprawl onto the green, hard wood, and look up at the sky.

If I'm living right it's right at sun-up, and light enough that I can see the imperfections in my eyes up against the gray or blue, I listen to the mourning doves (god, do I ever love to listen to the mourning doves, it's the best) and to watch the mourning doves flit 'round as they will, and here's some grackles of course, and here's some mockingbirds (I *hate* mockingbirds and I always will, if you know something nice about them I surely do hope you won't tell me, I want my mockingbird hatred pure, undiluted, alive, red-hot) and just whatever other birds might be about.

I like birds, mostly, even grackles -- did you know that you can take that disgusting sweetener that comes in those disgusting pink packets and drop said packets here/there and grackles will do about anything to get to them? That stuff is grackle crack. Great fun to watch. Grackles are ugly and worthless and useless and they poop all over everything but my feeling for them is mild as compared to mockingbirds.

(Q & A) Mr. dancestoblue, why is it you dislike mockingbirds so much? I'm glad you asked: I hate mockingbirds because mockingbirds suck. I can go on at length, I can expound, I can expand, I can rant, I can rave, even, but you don't want me to. Yes, yes, I want to. But you don't want me to.

I pretty much don't blame you.

So I'm sprawled now on that bench. Southern pine, and outdoors for who knows how many years. It is as hard as marble and nowhere near as pretty. You don't know me, you don't know that I am awfully tall but not really big, I don't carry any excess flesh on me, bones stick out. I'm plenty strong enough but I'm the guy can hide behind a broom. You'll have to look at me twice to see me once. You would perhaps call me a galoot -- others have. I'm telling you this to get you to understand that I've sprawled now for maybe 10 minutes or fifteen, maybe sending a text to someone or other, sortof hoping to wake them maybe, and in that 10 or 15 minute span I've opened up my skinny, bony back. And now, I'm screwed. Because there is no. way. to get off of that bench without hurting as each bone loses contact with it. It doesn't matter if I try to rock this way or that way instead of just goddamn well going on and sitting up. No matter. Same/same. It hurts.

You think I'm not going to moan when coming up from that goddamned rock-hard bench? If you think that, you are not thinking correctly. I am going to moan. I am going to complain. If I see a mockingbird I'm going to hate it even more than I would otherwise. That's saying a lot.

I came by this honestly. My father, you'd think there was murder going on in the living room, if you were in the kitchen say, and didn't know the scoop. Moan? Pah! He'd moan lifting a foot. You get him after a good days work and now he's sat down for four minutes or six and wants now to move, he would howl. Yes. Howl. It took time for friends to sortof understand it. My little ex-wife never could get over it -- she acted as though something strange were going on. She laughed, it wasn't that she judged him harshly, or at all, it was just a part of being my sweetie.

Check it out -- I married the first girl who I felt comfortable allowing into our house, our home. She clearly saw the grit of my people, you get at all close and you could easy see that we were every one of us nuts but she loved me anyways, maybe even loved me more somehow. She was awfully broken herself, not that she'd howl when pushing a chair away from the table but broken anyways. I was totally screwed -- here's this totally darling, freckled up redheaded girl who's a big mess, who was so full of so much that it about exploded out of her eyes -- eyes which, by the way, were the deepest and friendliest and prettiest blue and sparkling but not sparkling cold, warmth just pouring out -- she was totally full, to overflowing even, but she never could express it somehow.

Which leads to this: Am I a quiet person in the rack? No. fucking. way. I couldn't even kiss her, or think about kissing her, without deep sighing, or not sighing probably, just noise from inside me, from being contented and happy and tumbled head over with needing her, and ever so happy that she was tumbled head over needing me, and we both of us tumbling 'round just kissing and you think I'm going to shut up when we were in the rack? Give it up. She dug it. She wasn't exactly quiet her own self.

We had fun.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:34 PM on August 13, 2020

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