July 31, 2022- For some people, as they age, balance becomes more challenging and falling becomes more prevalent. It’s becoming a rare event to speak with a senior who hasn’t suffered from a fall or who doesn’t know someone who has fallen. Falls can be devastating and sadly fatal. I recently spoke with a client who was married for nearly 70 years before her husband passed away, and his death was precipitated by a loss of balance and several falls. Diminished balance does not have to be inevitable. There are exercises that can be done to maintain and improve balance; and there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the possibility of falls.
Balance Exercise– A very simple balance exercise is to just stand on one foot for 5 to 10 seconds. If you do not find this challenging, try this exercise with your eyes closed. Use a chair or wall as an aid, especially if you find balance very challenging.
Connection to the Ground- Many people walk on the outer sides of their feet or they place more weight on the outer sides of their feet. Doing so decreases the surface area of the feet connecting to the ground, and the less surface area touching the ground, the more balance will be challenging. Try to evenly spread the surface area of your feet to the four corners of your feet. It won’t be entirely even, but preferable to walking on the outer edges of your feet.
Footwear– Your footwear should match your activity. For example, if you’re participating in an activity where you’ll be doing a lot of lateral movements, then you do not want footwear designed for running in a straight line.
Improving balance can begin at any age and never feel as though it is too late, but the earlier the better.