Updated: Sep 30, 2021
Stay strong and active to help prevent falls - Tips and Tricks to help prevent falls
Keeping your body active, strong and mobile are keys to helping prevent falls now and in the future. Some falls can be linked to either:
Lack of mobility and flexibility
Overall strength or lack on strength in a specific area
For example, as we age, we lose range of motion in the ankle joint and our hip flexors tighten. Both play a huge role in gait and these two conditions in combination can lead to what is commonly known as the “senior shuffle”.
Ankles: With right leg out in front, bend knees until the left shin is on the floor or on a rolled up blanket and the right foot is right beside the left knee. Bring your body weight forward and feel the right ankle joint come to full dorsi flexion as you move the right heel towards the ground. Switch to the other side.
Modification – lay with both legs up the wall, flex and point feet, moving through a full range of motion.
Hip Flexors: Take a lunge position with the right leg out in front with knee bent. Now extend the left leg straight out behind with weight on the ball of the left foot. Feel the opening in the front of the left hip. Switch legs
Modification – sit tall on a chair with your left leg and glute off to the side of a chair off the chair. Extend the left leg behind you.
Balance plays a huge role in falls – many times, we lose our balance and “kablam”, before we know it, we are on our butts, on the ground, wondering what happened. Balance exercises and strength will help improve overall functional performance in life and help keep us upright, on two feet!
Balance Exercise – standing in front of a counter – place hands on the counter, feet together underneath you. Lift heels off the ground to a hover position. Take away one hand. Take away the other hand. Take away both hands. Lower heels. Repeat.
Modification – To make it easier, stand with your legs wider for a greater base of support.
To make it more challenging, try doing the same exercise on one leg.
Core Strength - The deep internal abdominal stabilizers play a big role in keeping us upright. The pelvic floor muscles are the foundations keep us stable on our feet.
The Elevator – I commonly use “the elevator” cue in my classes. Think about a 10 story building from your pubic bone to your navel. Inside that building (your body) is the elevator (your pelvic floor muscles). Think about lifting those muscles up and down like an “elevator”. First floor, down, fifth floor and down, tenth floor and down.
Another way of connecting with your pelvic floor muscles would be:
For women: having to give a urine sample and having to cut off the flow of urine mid flow. Now that you’ve found those muscles, instead of drawing in say as you might think about it to cut off the flow, think of drawing those muscles up – as if they were an elevator.
For men: same idea but maybe it’s a better visual if you think about walking into ice cold water. Once you hit that sensitive area, everything draws up, and I mean EVERYTHING.
People always laugh when I say, “you can do pelvic floor exercises when you are standing in line at Safeway, reading a magazine…” No one can see you doing these exercises because the muscles are deep inside. So it’s always a great “reminder” to take a minute to activate them when you have a little extra time.
Keeping strong and maintaining your flexibility and mobility will help prevent falls now and for years to come and keep you moving!