Fall Prevention: Your Long-Term Well-Being

 

Man in gym navigating a fall-prevention obstacle course.

A Body Balance client navigating an obstacle course: an advanced fall-prevention training challenge.

Everyone wants to avoid falling down, so fall prevention training should be a part of any wellness program. Working on balance, mobility, flexibility, and strength will contribute to your ability to stay upright even if you experience a trip or misstep.

If you’ve been involved in a fitness and mobility program and you do experience a fall, you will be better able to get back up to standing, and you’ll recover faster if you sustain any injuries: healthy bodies heal more quickly.

For seniors, fall prevention is particularly important. Unfortunately, statistics show that 25 percent of people 65 and over will experience a fall.

Falling is directly linked to losing independence and losing the ability to do activities you enjoy. Being unable to get up after a fall can be a serious issue especially if you’re alone and need help. The good news is that falls are largely preventable. 

Fall Prevention: Important for All Ages

Good balance is a key component of staying upright. So while fall prevention is largely aimed at the senior crowd, younger people may be surprised by how difficult holding their balance is. This will not improve on its own, and may only get worse. It’s never too early or too late to work on stability and balance. 

And everyone benefits from improved flexibility, mobility, and strength, other key factors in fall prevention. Your body is always changing, so consistent attention to keeping it in good working order will contribute to ongoing well-being. Start today, at whatever your age, to make sure that falling isn’t a part of your future. 

Body Balance Personal Training Starts with Functional Movement

At Body Balance, we work with people at all stages of fitness, experience, and ability levels, and in many states of health. Several of our fitness professionals specialize in senior client personal training, including working with people who use walking aids like walkers and canes and those who use a wheelchair.

Before we start with any client, we conduct a one-on-one fitness assessment, so that we can create a fitness and movement program to fit your needs. The first stage of every program addresses functional movement, which includes balance.

Man performing senior fall prevention trianing

A Body Balance client working on balance, stability, and strength.

 What Is Functional Movement?

Functional movements are the primary building blocks of our everyday activities. They are the basic movements that make up how we propel our bodies through the day.

These include

• pushing
• pulling
• squatting
• bending
• rotating

Functional movement also takes into account how you lift and carry everyday items, and how you walk.

Over the years, most of us develop unhealthy movement and postural habits and we stop utilizing our full range of motion: we slouch, lean on one hip, carry a heavy bag on one shoulder, sit for long periods of time. This can lead to pain, injury, and inflexibility.

At Body Balance, we help identify and strengthen weak muscles and muscle imbalances, and correct poor movement habits so that your body can return to a healthier state. As Joshua Steckler noted in a September 2018 article for Chicago’s Daily Herald: “By taking on a functional mindset, you’re training for everyday mobility and teaching your body to move more efficiently.”

Functional training helps improve all factors that contribute to fall prevention.

Drills to Improve Your Skills

During the Body Balance one-on-one assessments, we test balance skills. In personal training sessions, depending on a client’s abilities, we may start with basic balance activities like standing on one leg or maintaining a staggered stance—feet hip-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead and one slightly behind, and arms crossed over the chest so that hands touch opposite shoulders. To increase the difficulty of these exercises, the next step is to do them with eyes closed. It’s always surprising how much more challenging this is!

As balance improves, we move on to more difficult, and fun, activities like navigating obstacle courses that feature uneven, narrow, or unstable surfaces, like a foam pad; standing on a balance board; or stepping up on a raised platform. 

If you want to test and work on your balance on your own, this eleven-minute video provides seven exercises to improve balance and discusses factors that contribute to poor balance. The video is aimed at seniors, but these exercises will help anyone looking to improve balance.

The Bigger Picture

Topics like fitness, balance, aging, maintaining independence—they can feel heavy, arduous, and intimidating. It’s important to remember the ultimate goal: feeling good, moving better, and improving your well-being. At Body Balance Pleasanton, we infuse the serious business of fall prevention training with serious enthusiasm and a whole lot of joy.

Cherie Turner

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