Experiencing a fall can be very traumatic and cause unfortunate injuries that take time or effort to heal from. No one wants to have a fall occur! These can happen inside the home or outside in the world around us. Did you know that falls can be avoided? I want to help teach you my top ways to avoid a fall from ever happening again.
One way to prevent falls is to work on improving your balance. When your balance is poor, you are more likely to have a fall. Your balance skills can easily improve with a little bit of consistent and concerted effort and practice. For example, each day practice standing on one foot, eyes open. You can hold onto a countertop with your hand for support as needed to so that you are safe and don’t lose your balance. As you notice you become more balanced on a single leg, you can start to decrease how much assistance you have with your hand and just use one fingertip to hang on or let go with your hand completely and just rely on your leg to hold you up. The goal is to achieve 30 seconds on a single leg with eyes open.
If this is very easy for you, then you can also try to stand on one leg with your eyes closed. You will notice this is much more difficult, as now you have taken away the visual input to help you balance. You can also stand on an unstable surface like a pillow or cushion and practice your balance in this way. This will help with having great balance on unstable surfaces outdoors like walking on grass or on uneven pavement.
Another great way to decrease your risk of falls is to have strong muscles to support your body. In particular, strong leg muscles and a strong core so that you have the muscles working for you when you come up against a potential fall-risk. The strong muscles will help you adjust your body to stay on your feet if you trip or slip, and will prevent mis-steps. A few exercises in particular for strengthening are squats (like you are sitting back into a chair) and bridging. The bridging exercise is where you are on your back, knees bent and lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Be sure to squeeze your buttocks and keep your tummy tight.
Lastly, awareness is key to preventing falls. Watch out for potential hazards in your environment. In your home, watch out for clutter on the floor and keep an open pathway for walking. Keep lights easily accessible and in common places like near your bed or hallways so that you can always see where you are going. When outside, watch for uneven surfaces, ice, or changes in walkways that may cause a potential fall. In Winter, be sure to wear boots with slip-guards and use an assistive device as you may need for some support, as it is better to be safe than sorry.
A physical therapist can perform balance testing for you so that you know where you are at with your balance today and what you need to work on going forward. There are great tests out there such as the Berg Balance test that can help to determine your risk of falls and if you need to use an assistive device as well as guide you in certain exercises to improve and decrease your risk of falls. See a physical therapist for a full evaluation of your balance today, and let’s prevent falls together!