Yesterday, in one of my in person classes, a student approached me with serious concerns about her inability to balance and then an hour later, one of my facebook friends (former student in her mid sixties to early seventies) wrote a post about her fear of falling. I have been leading fitness classes since 1998, and have dedicated a good portion of my time helping my students to avoid serious injuries. Here are three steps that you can take today to reduce your risk of falling.
Get Real About Your Kludges (rhymes with stooges): A kludge is makeshift solution to a problem that is supposed to be temporary. Fixing your glasses with a paperclip, or holding something together with duct tape are both kludges but in my line of work, as a fitness trainer, I see people doing this with their health. "Well I hurt my knee many years ago and didn't want to get surgery, so now I avoid bending that one and I wear a brace." Or "I stopped doing physio on my (insert body part) because it didn't seem to be working, so I can't move that joint properly." THERE ARE NO OPTIONAL BODY PARTS. They all have a purpose so the first thing to do is to address the issue at hand. Get a proper diagnosis from a physiotherapist and then hire a trainer who can help you to improve your situation. The kludge that you are using puts you at risk for falling because the other joints and muscles have to work harder, creating imbalance.
Posture Awareness: As soon as I say the word posture people sit up straight. Slouching occasionally is okay but if you're spending most of your day in bad alignment, your muscles are growing tight and weak to the point where straightening your limbs can become impossible, which increases your fall risk. Try to be more aware of how you're moving/sitting/standing throughout your day. You can use a mirror to self adjust. Generally we want to have our ears over our shoulders, shoulders relaxed and down away from our ears, ribs in line with our ASIS (Anterior superior iliac spine), and a neutral pelvis. Asking your doctor to assess your posture during your next visit is a great way to learn about your own body.
Improve Your Core Strength: Having a functional core is more than just being able to do some abdominal curl ups. Your core is your entire torso area from your shoulders to your hips and it involves all of those muscles attached to the torso, including your pelvic floor and diaphragm. Improving the functionality of the entire core is essential to avoiding falls. Yoga, Pilates and Essentrics are great classes to take to improve your understanding of this area of the body. Deconditioned individuals can take classes where a chair is used as a support. In many cases it is very inexpensive to get started. Walking is great for improving balance but it is not enough. Having a strong core helps us to decelerate, meaning if we start to fall, our core is able to slow us down, giving us time to save ourselves from hitting the floor.
Instead of being fearful about falling, be proactive and do everything you can to reduce your risk of serious injury. If you need some guidance, feel free to contact me. I have some free videos that can help you to begin your fitness journey. You can find them here https://www.betholdfield.ca/freeworkoutvideos