I recently did a talk at a local retirement village on how to reduce the risk of falls (this is part of the reason I wanted to talk about balance this month).
People often think that part of getting older is having poor balance and there is nothing you can do about it. This does not have to be the case though. What you do during your life before you get ‘old’ can play a big part in how well your body ages and in particular how good your balance is. My hope with this information is that you can a) help maintain good balance before you get ‘old’ and b) if you are already ‘old’ you can improve your balance and hopefully reduce the risk of falls.
During my research for the talk I did, I learnt a lot about balance and falls and surprisingly ‘age’ itself isn’t a marker of falls. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that one first address the following movement-related risks:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Lower body weakness
- Foot problems
- Gait and Balance difficulties
Notice how most of these are linked with movement and joint function, or a lack of them. A lot of these issues are not due to simply ageing, but are the result of decreased movement over a number of years. As Katy Bowman put it in her book “dynamic Aging”, the reduced balance and instability we get as we age “is not due to your age, but how long you haven’t been challenging your balance”.
To me it makes sense that if we can look after our bodies better when we are younger and work on movement and challenge our balance, chances are it is not going to deteriorate as much and your risk of falling will hopefully reduce.
In the coming weeks I am going to discuss some simple ways to challenge your balance and I am also going to show you how you can work on your feet. Doing these in conjunction with simply moving more, will hopefully get your body working better and as a side effect reduce the risk of falling.
- Book: 'Dynamic aging', by Katy Bowman