As kids we fall hundreds of times. Even as adults,
we lose our balance, usually catching ourselves
before hitting the ground. So, at what point do
we need to worry about losing our balance and
not being able to self correct. Or even falling and
not being able to get back up.
Unfortunately, falls are the #1 cause of trauma
related hospital admissions for people over 50.
We are not talking about just elderly people here.
Those of you in your 50's are living active lives
and don't have time to be slowed down by poor
balance. However, this is the time in your life
when you may need to invest more time and
effort into maintaining your resilience.
Does falling have to be a normal part of
aging? Absolutely not!
The good news is that exercise has been shown to
cut your risk for falling dramatically. We aren't
just talking about going for a walk or bike ride
though. You must include strength, mobility, and
balance exercises to be proactive in reducing falls.
A fall prevention program should be tailored to
your condition and your particular needs. One size
does not fit all. Identifying your specific "weak
links" is the best way to improve both fitness and
The goal of a balance program is to allow you to
move around with more ease, coordination, and
confidence. It will gradually build your strength
and movement skills, especially in your trunk,
hips, and stomach. These muscles affect your
balance reactions the most.
If you don't currently have a problem with
balance, you can start exercises now to prevent
problems in the future. Here are some exercises
ideal to improve both your static balance
(standing still) and dynamic balance (keeping
your balance while moving).
1. Side Leg Raises
Standing at counter if you need support, lift one
leg out to the side while keeping your toes pointed
forward. This strengthens the muscles on the
side of the hip that contribute to stability while
standing and walking.
Additionally, it allows you to step sideways, or
around an obstacle without tripping. You can
progress this exercise by letting go of the counter
and then adding a resistance band around your
2. Single Leg Stance
Just like a flamingo, you should be able to stand
on one leg. Practicing this improve strength in
the core and hip muscles. When it is not a
challenge to stand on one leg, perform the
activity with your eyes closed.
The goal is to be able to stand on one leg with
your arms crossed in front of you, and your eyes
closed for at least 30 seconds.
3. Toe Walking
Walk across the room on your toes, while
maintaining your heels off the floor. This
improves the strength of your calf muscles and
works to improve your coordination while
walking. If you can easily walk across the room
on your toes, try walking back on your heels.
4. Walking with Head Turns
People often fall when they quickly move their
head or shift their gaze. Practice this regularly,
you won't be caught off guard. To do this, just
walk normally while turning your head to look
right and left. Also perform this activity looking
up and down. You will be improving your balance
and vestibular system, which controls your bodies
sense of being upright.
5. Sit to stand
Especially if you experience dizziness or
light headedness when getting up from a chair, this
one is important. You will just sit in a chair, and
then stand up. Ideally, you will be able to do this
with your arms crossed and not having to push up
from an arm rest.
Go from sitting to standing and then sitting again
10-15 times. It improves both your leg strength
and trains the inner ear to see this rising sensation
as "normal". Also try this one with your eyes
Did you have trouble with any of these exercise, or
are too fearful of falling to even give them a try?
Then it's time to get some help to improve your
A balance assessment by a physical therapist will
look at your strength, flexibility, movement,
posture, balance reactions, and stability. All of these
areas contribute to your ability to stay upright and
prevent falls at any age.
As movement specialists, a physical therapist will be
able to tailor either a treatment plan or home
program to best meet your needs. Request a call
HERE from one of our physical therapists to see if
you qualify for a FREE balance assessment.