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 environment.
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 recommended
groups that can affect function:
flexors (occur when sitting too long) can be
stretched to help alleviate low back pain.
hamstring muscles can also lead to low back pain, so
strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings will
muscles can cause knees to internally rotate;
stretching will improve balance.
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 balance:
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
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 with “power.”)
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 818-620-1442
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