• Wellness Ctr of Franklin

Improve Your Balance, Prevent Falls and Stay Strong on Your Feet for Life



It's one thing to be klutzy, but falling is one of the most serious medical problems facing everyone over a “certain” age. Over the years, the body’s systems that detect gravity, identify exact body positioning at any moment, and promote balance and stability become less effective. The muscles we use to stand tall weaken, ever so gradually, after we hit 30 (yes, only 30). The length of our stride shortens, the pace of our steps slows, and vision—critical to coordination—becomes fuzzier.


On their own, these changes increase your risk of falling, but they often occur alongside type 2 diabetes, which affects about 25 percent of older adults and is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage that can result in numbness in the hands, feet, and other parts of the body.


Put all of that together, and it’s easy to see why falls are the number-one cause of injuries and death from injuries among older Americans. In fact, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an older adult falls every single second of each day in the United States.


How well we keep our balance in midlife can protect us from what lies ahead: One in three adults over age 65 takes a serious tumble each year. Avoiding falls means a longer life: About 20% of women who fracture a hip become permanently disabled, and another 20% die within a year. In fact, health problems linked to hip fractures result in more women's deaths each year than breast cancer does.


But an enhanced sense of stability doesn't just help protect you from future falls. “There are immediate health benefits—better mobility, fewer injuries, greater capacity to push yourself harder during workouts—that increase overall fitness”, says Fabio Comana, an instructor with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.


A huge problem is that people are often unaware that their coordination is slipping. While there are hallmarks of clumsiness—such as poor handwriting and constantly banged-up shins and knees—even naturally agile people need to work to boost balance with age. "Balance is a separate system, just like strength or flexibility. You can improve it if you continue to challenge it," says Edward Laskowski, MD, codirector of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, MN.


Lynn Millar, PhD, a professor of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University, says "Balance is really 'use it or lose it.' You can maintain it if you stay active."


It’s never too early to start thinking about improving your balance and preventing falls…

The Wellness Center of Franklin now has BTrackS Balance Testing equipment that can easily assess your fall risk and then provide balance training and rehabilitation. For your assessment, please call the office at (615)790-6363

Test Your Balance

Try these three moves to see how well you can balance.

  1. On both feet: Stand with feet together, anklebones touching, and arms folded across chest; then close your eyes. Have someone time you: Though it's normal to sway a little, you should be able to stand for 60 seconds without moving your feet. Next, place one foot directly in front of the other and close your eyes. You should be able to stand for at least 38 seconds on both sides.

  2. On one foot: Stand on one foot and bend other knee, lifting nonsupporting foot off floor without letting it touch standing leg. (Do this in a doorway so you can grab the sides if you start to fall.) Repeat with eyes closed. People age 60 and younger can typically hold the pose for about 29 seconds with their eyes open, 21 seconds with their eyes closed. People age 61 and older: 22 seconds with eyes open, 10 seconds with eyes closed.

  3. On ball of foot: Stand on one foot with hands on hips, and place nonsupporting foot against inside knee of standing leg. Raise heel off floor and hold the pose—you should be able to do so for 25 seconds.

The Wellness Center of Franklin now has BTrackS Balance Testing equipment that can easily assess your fall risk and then provide balance training and rehabilitation. For your assessment, please call the office at (615)790-6363

Six Exercises from Prevention to Improve Balance


1. Foot taps


Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart in front of a step (the bottom step of a staircase will work) or low piece of furniture. If needed, hold on to the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding on to anything.

From here, slowly raise one foot to tap the step in front of you, and then slowly return it to the floor. Perform 15 to 20 taps, then repeat on the opposite leg.


2. Head Rotations


Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold on to the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding on to anything.

From here, slowly move your head from side to side then up and down while keep your body as still as possible. Do this for 30 seconds, and repeat. If you get dizzy, pause and move your head more slowly. If you’re still dizzy, stop.

3. Standing Marches


Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold on to the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding on to anything.

From here, lift one knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor (or as close to parallel as you can go) while keep your torso straight and avoiding any leaning. Pause, then slowly return your foot to the floor. Perform 20 marches, alternating between legs with each march.

4. Sit-to-Stands


Stand tall with your back facing a sturdy chair and your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold on to the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding on to anything.

From here, sit back and slowly lower your hips on to the chair as gently as possible. Pause, and without swinging your torso, push through your heels to stand up. Perform 10 repetitions.

5. Single-Leg Stands


Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold on to the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding on to anything.

From here, lift one foot an inch off the floor while keeping your torso straight and without leaning toward your planted foot. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then slowly return your foot to the floor. Repeat on the opposite leg. Perform five stands on each leg.

6. Over-the-Shoulder Walks


Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart at one end of a hallway or room. If needed, hold on to the wall for balance. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding on to anything.

From here, look behind you over one shoulder. Maintaining this gaze, take four to five steps forward. Then, look over your other shoulder, and take four to five more steps forward. Perform five repetitions on each side.

The Wellness Center of Franklin now has BTrackS Balance Testing equipment that can easily assess your fall risk and then provide balance training and rehabilitation. For your assessment, please call the office at (615)790-6363

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Wellness Center of Franklin,LLC

CONTACT

128 Holiday Court, Suite 107

Franklin, TN 37067

email:  teamhealth@wellnesscenteroffranklin.com

phone:

615.790.6363

Opening Hours:

Mon: 9-12:30, 2-5:45

Tues: 2-5:45

Wed: 9-12:30, 2-:5:45

Th: 2-5:45

Fri: 9-12:30

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