At this time of the year, all of my students, in all of my classes are working on developing their stability muscles. All of us need to be ready for slippery walking conditions. My hope is that by developing our core muscles and leg strength, that we will be ready to catch ourselves when we slip on the ice and if we do fall, that we will be strong enough to get back up. I prepare my students all year to have a strong core but I incorporate even more exercises in the winter months to make sure that they are ready for that inevitable sidewalk slip!
One of the best ways to prepare our bodies for potential falls is to train on one leg, so we often have one knee lifted when we are standing and doing weight lifting. This activates all of the stabilizer muscles and gets them practiced at doing their job! We often use a disc that slides on the floor. One foot is placed upon the disc and we gently push the disc backwards which brings us into a lunge position. I then cue my students to use the front leg only to get themselves back up into an upright position.
“Pretend that you have slipped on ice and that the back foot is of no use to you. Use your front leg only to get yourself back upright.” Of course there are plenty of other instructions to go along with this but for those you have to come to class! I do this to make sure that they are strong enough on one leg to get themselves up if one of their legs is hurt after a fall.
I have a very personal reason for doing all of this work toward fall prevention. When I was very young, a relative died at the bottom of her basement stairs. She lived alone in her later years and had taken a spill down the stairs. I have always wondered if perhaps she fell and simply could not get up to get help. She was found several days later.
Near the end of my dad’s life, he was in a wheelchair. My mom had fallen coming out of the bathroom and she was unable to get up. My dad thought he could help if he got down on the floor and then they both laughed when they realized that they could not help each other at all! Somehow they managed to call 911 and both of them had to be lifted up.
Of course, we do not have control over what the future holds for us. Part of my mission as a trainer is to help my students be stable enough to avoid falls, and strong enough to help themselves out of a serious situation, should they find themselves on the ground. I do this with all ages by the way, as we all need to be ready for the surprise of slipping. If we are not in shape, muscles can be injured, ligaments torn and bones can be broken. The truth is, the better shape that you are in before a fall, the shorter your recovery time will be.
One of my students, who is in his mid fifties, just told me yesterday of how he avoided a serious fall during the last snowstorm. We were doing some one legged exercise and he mimicked how practising that particular exercise in class had prepared him for the slip. His core and his leg muscles remembered the moves practised in class, so his body was ready to kick into action and prevent a serious injury!
I love hearing these stories! They keep me going. Keep them coming.