Stuck on the floor, unable to get up, I leaned over and said, now clasp your hands around my back as I help lift you up. It must have been a helpless and scary feeling to have fallen and lay there for hours, not knowing when help would arrive and if you were gravely injured.
The fear of losing one's independence is universal, especially as we age, and the realization that this might occur can be unsettling. I couldn’t help but think, could this have been prevented?
It is crucial to remember the importance of balance in preventing falls, and the ability to rise from the floor if we do fall can be life-saving. We can walk confidently and independently into our futures by conditioning our bodies.
Strength - Even at an advanced age, we can increase our strength - I witness this on a daily basis as I train my elderly clients. Regular strength training improves balance, helping to prevent falls. And when you have more strength, you are more likely to be able to get back up if you do fall. Resistance training also improves bone density, reducing the risks of fractures.
Posture - Posture also affects balance. A forward-hunched posture shifts your center of gravity and increases your susceptibility to falls. However, good posture aligns your center of gravity and stabilizes your body.
Stance - Equally important to posture is how we stand. Through working with clients, I often educate them about the significance of their stance. A wider stance provides a better base for balance, while a narrower one demands more balance control. For example, an individual with weakened strength, poor posture, and a narrow stance will inevitably struggle with maintaining balance.
Flexibility and Range of Motion. - Flexibility and range of motion significantly influence our balance. As we step, our hips and spine rotate naturally, and unrestricted movement aids in balance. Recently, I aided a client with limited ankle movement, which improved their footing on uneven terrains.
Vestibular System - Our balance also heavily depends on our vestibular system, which comprises our inner ear, eyes, and sensations in our legs and feet. Depending on their environment, we may rely more heavily on one part than another. This system helps our brain orient us in space to maintain balance. Vestibular specialists can conduct assessments to identify problems in any of these areas and suggest appropriate treatment.
We can take numerous proactive steps to improve balance and prevent falls. The key to this effectively lies in a suitable workout plan matched to your skills and capabilities.
The value of confidently stepping into the future and maintaining independence as we age can never be underestimated.
I wish you the best in your journey to health and well-being,