How to Prevent Falls by Improving Your Balance

As we start to inch our way closer to winter and that four letter “snow” word, we start to think about the ice and uneven ground that comes along with it. Falling rates increase substantially during the winter months. Which lead to potential broken bones, and more specifically hip fractures. In cardiac rehabilitation, and those we see coming into hospital with heart disease, or having heart surgery, the age range typically is between 50 – 80 yrs old. This is the prime age bracket for when hip fractures can be more predominant. As rehab professionals we start to put a little more focus on training for balance to help prevent falls for our patients.

According to a study published in the BMC Musculoskelet Discord;

87% to 96% of hip fracture patients are 65 years of age or older.

Another large study in the Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation journal states;

Hip fractures are associated with significant morbidity, mortality, loss of independence, and financial burden.

NOT FUN!! Let’s do something to help prevent that!

Unfortunately as we age, we begin to lose muscle strength, joint function, vision, and reaction time, all of which contribute to our loss of balance. However, with a few minutes each day, we can help to maintain, or even improve our balance, and reduce our risk of falling. This is something ideally we should be working on consistently all year round, however needs to become top priority as we head into the winter months.

Daily Beginner Balance Routine:

Standing behind a sturdy chair, with two hands resting on the back; (only use your hands as much as you need to. Allow your body the chance to wobble a little and work on getting stronger) – pick a spot to look at as this will help.

Hold each exercise for 20 secs: Do both sides: Repeat each side 2 – 3 times.

  1. pick up one foot slightly and rotate your ankle in circles – hold 20 secs.
  2. Bring your foot out to the side, leaning over slightly – hold 20 secs.
    • Movement – lift & lower leg out to the side 10 slow times (goal is to not touch the ground in between each repetition)
  3. Bring your foot out behind you, leaning your chest closer to the floor. – hold 20 secs
    • Movement – lift & lower leg out behind you 10 slow times (goal is to not touch the ground in between each repetition)
  4. With both feet on the floor, raise up on your toes. Go up and down 10 times. Holding at the top for a few seconds before lowering back down. (As you get stronger try raising up on just one foot at a time)
  5. With both feet on the floor, raise your toes up off the floor as high as you can. Rocking back onto your heels. Do 10 times. (you can do one foot at a time if you wish)
  6. FUN FINISH: Walk the tight rope!!
    • Find a hallway where you can reach the wall on either side, or at least have a wall on one side of you.
    • Walk with one foot being placed directly in-front of the other. Heel to toe. Like you are walking on a tight rope. Go slow with deliberate steps. Goal is to walk with your head up, and not touching the wall.

Other activities such as Yoga and Tai Chi are also wonderful for helping to work on your balance. Sticking to a strength training routine will also help to ward off muscle loss as we age, and help to keep those joints functioning as they should.

Any questions? Feel free to reach out. [email protected]

Have a wonderful fall(less) season!!

Cam & Shawn

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Shawna Cook

Shawna is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, who has been working in Cardiac Rehabilitation for over 10 years. Her years in the health and fitness field however have spanned over the past 2+ decades. As an elite level athlete she fell in love with understanding the human body, and how the choices she made, affected how it performed. This led to a degree from the University of Winnipeg in the stream of Athletic Therapy, and the passion towards helping others recover from injury and "be their best selves" grew.