Welcome back! We appreciate the time it took you to follow this 4 part blog series. If you are joining for the first time, please take a second to read back through the first 3 parts:
These posts lay the foundation for a couple important things. First, should you be concerned? Second, what are some practical action steps to take?
However, we would like to add some practical and pre-emptive strategies to strengthen key areas and reduce your fall risk.
Note that this blog post does not constitute medical advice. Individual needs vary widely, so it is impossible for us to diagnose your situation through blog posts! We recommend that if you have a concern, you set up a free consultation at one of our 4 locations or contact your doctor. Please consult with your doctor or get evaluated by a physical therapist before commencing with any program of exercise.
What are some practical exercises I can do to reduce your fall risk? As you have seen over the past few weeks, there are plenty of fall hazards that exist in the environment, both inside the home and outside. Hopefully you have already taken a few steps to mitigate your fall risk. However, one of the most significant pieces of advice we can give has still been overlooked: What are some things you can do to improve your balance & strength to ensure that you get to live a long, happy, and independent life?
This is one of the classic balance and fall prevention exercises. If possible, it is important to include this exercise in your program. Simply sit in a sturdy chair with your legs directly in front of you, cross your arms in front of your chest, and stand up. Since you are not using your arms for balance, you will need to bring your shoulders forward as you stand. Keep the back straight as you stand up, and then sit back down. Repeat 10 times.
The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the outer hip. Hold onto a sturdy chair or table for balance. Balance on one leg and move the other leg straight out to the side, keeping the toes pointed straight forward. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
There are two main methods of doing this exercise: with a Theraband or without one. Either way, find a sturdy table that you can hold on to, facing towards the table. While standing up straight, pull one leg straight back and stand on the other. Repeat 10 times on each leg. If the exercise is too easy, use a Theraband wrapped around the table leg on one end, and your ankle on the other.
The following two exercises can be performed back to back, since they are very similar. This exercise will strengthen the front of your lower leg. While holding onto a sturdy table or counter (perhaps the one you used for your hip extensions), raise your toes up in the air as high as possible and hold for 1 second. Then place your toes back down on the ground. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise is–you guessed it–the opposite of the exercise you just performed. It will strengthen your calves and the backs of your lower legs. Hold onto your sturdy table or counter, and simply raise your heels up as high in the air as you can. Hold for 1 second, and then lower your heels. Repeat 10 times.
There you have it! A simple program of exercise that can be used indefinitely. This, combined with the fall prevention techniques mentioned in parts 1-3 of this series, can ensure that you continue to live independent and healthy for many years to come.