Poor balance and falls risk, and what you can do about it!

Do you have a fear of falling over and have noticed your balance getting worse?

If so then this article is for you!

Unfortunately, as we get older we start to lose our balance. 

There are many things that can affect our balance, a few examples include:

  • Loss of lower limb strength 
  • Poor eyesight 
  • Medications

Balance is extremely important for our everyday lives. As we start to lose our balance, we begin to find it hard to complete every day activities and are less likely to engage in those activities that we really enjoy. Activities such as playing with the grandchildren, fishing from the rocks or getting out in the garden become much harder. As our balance declines we also place ourselves at a higher risk of falls and in particular a falls related injury. 

If you have noticed that your balance isn't what it once was and you’re avoiding activities that are important to you, then never fear as there is something you can do about it…. EXERCISE!

Both resistance training and balance training have been shown to help improve the balance of older adults and help reduce their risk of falls. 

Remember our blog from the other week about resistance training? Let me explain to you how this relates back to reducing our risk of falls

Strength Training: Strength refers to a large to maximum effort of your muscles for only a small amount of repetitions. A decrease in lower limb (and upper limb) strength has been identified as a risk factor for falls.

Examples of when strength is important for balance: squatting down to pick up heavy pot plants. 

Endurance training: Endurance refers to your ability to perform a low to medium effort with your muscles repetitively over a longer period. A lack of endurance in the muscles has also been identified as a risk factor for falls. 

Example of when endurance is important: You take a long walk to your favourite fishing spot, then have to carry that heavy bucket over uneven surfaces back to your car. 

Power Training: Power refers to the ability to perform a medium to large effort with your muscles over a shorter period. Power refers to the explosiveness of your muscles and is all about the speed of movement. If you can rapidly produce the force required to quickly put your foot down firmly on the ground, you will go a long way to reducing your risk of falling over.

Example of when power is important: Your young grandchild has quickly jumped out in front of you causing you to stumble. 

Now that's resistance training covered, so let's talk about balance training and the importance
of this: 

Good balance requires a few aspects, but in particular good stabilising muscles and joints, good proprioception and good confidence. Our proprioception refers to our ‘perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body’.

These aspects can be improved through practicing stationary balance and moving balance, in a range of different positions and environments. As we do this we begin to understand our body and how it moves and this helps build our confidence. 

With all this being said, it is evident that a combination of both resistance and balance training is important for improving our balance and reducing our risk of falls. This will leave you much more confident and capable of doing the activities that are important to us and that we love! 

While it might be hard for us to improve your eyesight or change your medications, our team can assist you in finding the correct exercises to help with your balance. While we are at it, we can also improve multiple other health concerns - talk about killing two birds with one stone! 

If you’d like to learn more about improving your balance, give us a call on 8682 6665.

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