Fall Prevention: How to Improve Your Balance, Reduce Fall Risk and Get Stronger at the Same Time
If there’s ONE THING I want you to get out of this post it’s that you CAN decrease your fall risk and improve your balance TODAY, with just a few simple concepts and body movements that you can implement today, right now!
But first, a few surprising risk factors for high fall risk:
~ If you’re taking 4 medications or greater, you’re 80% more likely to fall within a year.
~ Weakness itself is a fall risk: if you have to use your arms to stand up, you’re at high risk for falls.
~ Things like poor eyesight, decreased desire to walk/be active and cognitive impairment all set people up for falls.
Whatever the reason there’s a balance issue, you can decrease your fall risk and improve you balance.
No one wants to fall, but when you do, it happens quick. And when it does it can lead to injury and a long list of bad things, including nursing home placement and even death. But you can do some easy things TODAY to help prevent these things from happening – that really work!
How do we know this? Helping people naturally rejuvenate their bodies is what we do here at Active Physical Therapy in Santa Maria since 2003, and we help people with balance problems ALL the time.
We see people with “bad balance” start with us feeling nervous, apprehensive of venturing out into the world, limiting what they can do physically and even socially… and we help them transform into feeling confident, regaining their peace of mind and help them finally be able to move about their world again, doing their chores, visiting with friends and going where they want to go without the energy-sapping fear of falling.
The type of folks we see for balance problems in our center can include bad balance from specific issues, such as Parkinson’s, inner ear issues, problems after a surgery or an injury, BUT ALSO we help many people who just feel a little more unsteady and aren’t sure why.
Getting older does NOT mean your balance has to be bad.
If you’re experiencing worsened balance or noticing that in someone you love, it is NOT something you just have to live with: you can reduce your fall risk and improve your balance TODAY.
Things you can do TODAY to decrease your fall risk:
Improve Awareness and Habits
Things like rushing, walking somewhere you know is uneven or too challenging in some other way without the appropriate cane, walker, or use of a rail are all some of the MAIN things that we see cause people to fall. trying to do too many things too fast.
~DON’T stand up and turn/start walking right away. DO INSTEAD: Count for 2 mississippi. Then begin walking slowly.
~DON’T try to turn while still walking: DO INSTEAD: STOP, pick up feet to turn your body the way you want to go, then resume walking in the right direction.
~DON’T turn your head to look at something while walking: DO INSTEAD: STOP and turn your head so you don’t lose your balance.
~DON’T: try carrying a bunch of stuff and moving fast… DO INSTEAD: take multiple trips, using your cane or walker as needed.
Get the Correct Support
~Shoes: Wearing the correct, supportive shoes connect you with the ground and make you have to work less hard to keep your balance. No loose shoes, no slippers, no socks no flip flops if you have ANY balance issues.
~Assistive devices: Using a cane, a walker or grab rails when needed connect you to the ground consistently and reduce your chances of a fall. But as you work on your strength and balance, and as you get legitimately stronger, as your reactions and balance improve, THEN you can wean down and use less of these extra supports. But using them as tools until you can walk and move safely and correctly is a great idea to reduce fall risk and keep moving around your world the way you want to.
2 Exercises to improve balance:
1: Stand-up, sit-downs: stand up and sit down as many times as you can with good technique: no leaning to the side, no bursts of momentum: slow, controlled movements with as little use of arms as possible. Start with 3 if you have to: the point is to STRENGTHEN EVERY DAY, and increase over time as you get stronger.
2. Kitchen sink balance: stand with either feet together (easier) or one foot in front of the other (harder), holding onto the sink for support. Unlock the knees to activate your legs and stand tall, eyes on the horizon. Try to stand for 20 sec, do 3 reps. Gradually let go of the sink: the idea is to be a LITTLE wobbly, to improve the reactions of muscles, NOT out of control. Start easy and slowly build up. Do daily.
There are many other exercises that can improve balance, but these are a good start, and can be done by nearly anyone!
If you have any questions about the above, reply back, and also know that we SPECIALIZE in helping people with balance difficulties!
If you need assistance with balance in any way, give us a call or send us a message through this website and we can see how we might be of assistance to you or a loved one.
I get all the messages from this website personally and will answer every one – I LOVE nerding-out about how the human body can heal itself, so make my day and reply back with a comment or a question!