Fall Prevention

by MichelleR on June 11, 2012

Maintaining balance is the result of a combination of many factors of the human body. With aging, changes occur that reduce how well our bodies balance.
There are 5 main factors that contribute to our bodies maintaining balance;
1. The Inner Ear. For example when you move forwards and backwards, the inner ear sends signals to your body to keep you upright when motion occurs.
2. Sight. Sight allows us to align ourselves with our surroundings.
3. Touch. We ground ourselves with nerve sensors so we can adjust to the pressure.
4. Muscle Sensory. To stay balanced, the inner ear must not only internally feel that the body is moving, but the muscle and joint sensors must tell the body it is physically moving.
5. Central Nervous System. The CNS is made up of your brain and spinal cord to process all of the information coming from your senses and is what is constantly keeping the body balanced.

Given that balance is so complex, an exercise program can help to reduce the risk of falls. Evidence shows 20 to 50 percent lower fall rates with a systematic program of evaluation, exercise and environment.
Exercise performed at a moderate intensity or progress from low to moderate intensity two to three times a week is recommended.
Muscle groups that can affect function:
•Tight hip flexors (occur when sitting too long) can be stretched to help alleviate low back pain.

•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 balance.

Muscle imbalance occurs when muscles on one side of the joint are strong and tight, and the muscles on the other side are weak. Muscle imbalance can be corrected with strength training by stretching short, tight muscles and strengthening the weak muscles and continue to train both muscles equally.
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 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 with “power.”)
•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. CAREGivers can also assist and help monitor your exercises for safety.

Previous post:

Next post: