Exercises to Prevent Falls

Balance Activities

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Falls in the elderly are the leading cause of fatal as well as non-fatal injuries. The most common types of injuries sustained after falls include hip, spine, and wrist fractures, as well as head trauma. These injuries can result in serious disabilities. One thing is for sure: falls can be prevented.

If you have fallen, you need to see your doctor to get checked out, and then it is a good idea to check in with your physical therapist.

Your PT can show you specific balance exercises to help you maintain appropriate balance and to, hopefully, prevent future episodes of falling.

Balance exercises help you maintain strong leg muscles and prevent falls. They also improve yourtu overall proprioception, or your body's awareness of where it is in the environment. For this reason, a home exercise program that includes balance activities is essential for older individuals or for people who have fallen.

Below are some exercises that can help improve your balance. In the beginning, for safety, hold onto a table or chair with both hands. As you progress and your balance improves, you can decrease the amount of support by using one or no hands.

Be sure to check in with your doctor before starting this, or any other exercise program, for your balance.

Exercise One

This exercise is called the single leg stance. It is simple to do anywhere in your home where you have some support to hold on to.

  • Stand directly behind a table or chair and place your feet slightly apart.
  • Lift one leg six inches out to the side.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

You can perform the single leg stance on each leg 5 to 10 times. When you're ready to make the exercise more challenging, stand on one foot and close your eyes.

The lack of visual input will challenge your muscles a bot more.

Exercise Two

This single leg stance exercise move your leg in a different direction, challenging you base of support a bit more. Here is what you do:

  • Stand directly behind a table or chair and place your feet slightly apart.
  • Slowly bend one knee toward your chest lifting your foot six inches off the floor.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Again, make this exercise more challenging by closing your eyes when you do it.

Exercise Three

This single leg stance exercises has you move your lifted leg back into hip extension, challenging your balance in a different way. Here is what to do.

  • Stand directly behind a table or chair and place your feet slightly apart.
  • Lift one leg straight back, keeping your knee straight.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.
  • More challenge: close your eyes while you do it.

The above exercises should be performed two to three times a day.

Rememeber, to challenge your balance, you need to creat situations where you feel a bit unsteady.

This means you must remain safe while you do the exercises. Check with your PT and learn the best balance exercises, like these single leg stance exercises, to help improve your balance.

Edited by Brett Sears.

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