5 Key Exercises to Decrease Fall Risk at Any Age

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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

safety.

 

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

thighs.

 

 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

closed.

 

 

 

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

balance.

 

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.