ARTICLES / General / Balance – Fall Prevention /
Maintaining balance is the result of a complex
interaction of many systems in the human body.
With aging, changes occur that reduce how efficient
these systems work. Many identifying risk
factors for falling can be, but not limited to,
balance/gait problems, prior falls, vision, limited
ability to perform Activities of Daily Living
(ADL’s), depression/dementia and medications.
But, intervention programs work! Evidence
shows 20 percent to 50 percent lower fall rates with
a systematic program of evaluation, exercise and
Balance is so complex; an exercise program can
reduce the risk of falls. Exercise performed
at a moderate intensity or progress from low to
moderate intensity two to three times a week is
Muscle groups that can affect function:
- Tight hip flexors (occur when sitting too
long) can be stretched to help alleviate low
- Tight hamstring muscles can also lead to low
back pain, so strengthening the quadriceps and
hamstrings will help.
- Tight calf muscles can cause knees to
internally rotate; stretching will improve
Muscle imbalance occurs when muscles on one side
of the joint are strong and tight, and the opposing
muscles on the other side are weak. Muscle
imbalances can be corrected with strength training.
Stretch short, tight muscles, strengthen the weak
muscles and continue to train both muscles equally.
Other muscles affected include weak abdominals,
gluteus medius and maximus, tight pectoralis
muscles, tight lumbar spine, etc.
Physical action and thought assists in
- Take a bigger stride when walking.
- If using a walker, try placing the walker a
little further out, then step. Using this method
helps because you are staying on one foot longer
each time you trade feet to walk.
- Try standing about three feet from a wall
and slowly lean toward the wall; before you hit
the wall, bring your hands out in front to catch
yourself. (Pushing back from this position helps
- When getting up from a reclining position,
count to five before standing to avoid feeling
light-headed and dizzy; take your time.
Keep in mind these are only a few exercises or
considerations. Most exercises require
supervision to avoid injury, especially if doing
them for the first time. Consult your
physician if necessary for medical clearance when
starting on an exercise regimen.
Lori P. Michiel is a NASM
Certified Personal Trainer. For more information
regarding training programs contact Lori at