How to Improve your Balance and Stay Steady – A Physiotherapist’s Guide
DON’T FALL FOR IT! It’s time to tackle some myths about falling.
Only really frail or infirm people fall, don’t they?
Not at all. One in three people over 65, many in decent health will have a fall this year. This risk does increase, however as we age. Half of over 80’s will fall at least once a year.
It’s just an inevitable part of getting older, isn’t it?
Not necessarily. Experts believe that vast majority of falls could be prevented with some fairly modest changes to our lifestyle and homes. Medically speaking though, falls are often a warning sign that something isn’t quite right, but it’s often something quite treatable.
Keep moving for a balanced life:
Between the ages of 50 and 70, we lose about 30% of our muscle strength, which can affect our balance and ability to prevent a fall. This can be made worse if we spend long periods sitting down There are many simple things you can do to stay steady on your feet, whether you’re fit and active, have mobility problems, or are worried about falling.
What can I do?
When watching TV, roll your shoulders regularly and get up and walk about in every ad break or between programmes. The following activities are all fantastic for maintaining balance and mobility:
Walking/joining a walking group
Light gardening or housework
Attending special strength and balance fitness classes
T’ai Chi or exercise to music classes such as those run by EXTEND
When sitting, keep your back as straight as possible to avoid developing a stooped posture- The enemy of good balance!
Once you know what kind of physical activities are right for you, start gently and build up gradually.
In addition to regular exercise and the balance retraining programme outlined above, there are many other ways to prevent slips and trips and stay steady on your feet.
What can I do?
If you have had a fall or are worried about falling, speak to your GP who can refer you to a physiotherapist for advice or your local falls service.
In future newsletters we will be providing an opportunity for you to ask physiotherapy related questions. If you have a question you’d like answering, phone, email email@example.com or post a question to us for it to be answered in the next edition.
Justine Seymour is a chartered physiotherapist providing specialist home visits for older people with balance and mobility problems in Bournemouth and Poole. She can be contacted on Justine.firstname.lastname@example.org or TEL: 07771883861.