REDUCE YOUR RISK OF A FALL WITH JUST 5 EXERCISES
Seniors injured from falls is placing a massive cost burden on our health care system. The average medical cost for a senior who falls and breaks a hip and has a one-month hospital or rehabilitation center recovery is approx. $40,000 here in Canada. Reduce your risk of a fall and maintain your independence with strength training exercises.
GLUTE/HIP BRIDGES- This is a great and simple exercise anyone can do! It strengthens your posterior chain (think your backside!) and increases bone density. A stronger posterior chain will not only reduce the risk of a fall, but if you do fall, stronger muscles and bones can decrease the chance of a broken hip or pelvis.
INSTRUCTIONS: Lie on your back. Bend both knees to about a 90-degree angle while resting your feet on the floor. Your arms can be at your hips or out at your sides. Slowly lift your bum off the floor, until you form a straight line with your body. Return to the start position by lowering yourself back to the floor.
CLAMSHELLS- This exercise targets muscles that are important to pelvic and hip stability and increasing bone density. The stronger you are with your hip stability, not only is there less likely the chance of falling, but if you do fall stronger muscles and bones can also lessen the chance of a broken hip or pelvis.
INSTRUCTIONS: Find yourself a wall that allows enough space for you to lie down on your side, directly next to the wall. Line up yourself so that when your knees are bent the bottoms of your feet touch the wall, along with your back and head. This will prevent any movement happening from the back or sacroiliac (SI) joint. We want the movement to come from the hip. While your knees are in a bent position, pretend your feet are glued together and can’t come apart, while you slowly lift your top leg/knee towards the ceiling.
SPLIT SQUATS- This exercise is really great because the body is a little off-balanced to begin with. It also somewhat mimics how we walk. It is not very common we fall from a stable position, so getting strong and comfortable in a slightly off balanced exercise, will only benefit in preventing falls.
INSTRUCTIONS: Start in a split leg position, with one leg forward and one leg back. Bend your knees and lower yourself towards the floor until the back knee is just above the floor. Stand back up until you return to the start position. You can hold on to a chair in front of you for balance as you get used to the exercise.
PUSH UPS- Having a strong upper body is important too. If you find yourself slipping or off balance, being able to catch yourself and hold yourself upright can prevent you from falling completely.
INSTRUCTIONS: Your hands should be placed on the wall, just outside your shoulders and at a level no higher than shoulder height. Place feet approximately hip width apart on the floor. Bend your elbows until your chest gets close to the wall, making sure your head stays in line with the rest of the spine- don’t poke your head forwards as you descend. Push yourself away from the wall to return to your starting position.
Depending on how strong you are you may need to start with a wall push up and from there, progress to the floor. A natural progression from a wall push up would then be to do a push up at counter height, then aT bench height, finally moving down to the floor.
SINGLE LEG BALANCE- Probably one of the most important exercises to practice for fall prevention. Having a strong balance foundation, can mean the difference between staying upright (when slipping or having tripped), and falling to the ground.
Until you get the “balance” (pun intended!) of this exercise, I highly suggest you begin near a wall or counter so that if you start to feel unstable you can place your hands on the wall/counter to regain your stability. Or start with a chair.
While standing next to a sturdy, unmovable object, slowly lift one foot off the ground. It does not have to go far from the ground. Some people like to have their hands out to their sides and fix their eyes on one spot on the ground to help keep them stable. As you get stronger and feel more comfortable, slowly lift the foot higher from the ground.
I always encourage my clients to do this exercise while brushing their teeth, when they feel the confidence to do so. The small movements from the upper body (brushing the teeth), will throw the lower body off balance slightly, which makes it more difficult to keep the single leg still, and balanced.
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