Fall Prevention Intervention
Four Real Ways to Address a
WEAKNESS AND FALLING
Have you or someone you know fallen recently? Are you seeing signs of shuffling, short-stepping and lack of confidence? Do these common symptoms of aging seem inevitable and part of the slippery slide down to a nursing facility?
In this article you will learn that falls occur for a combination of reasons and the solution and prevention is multi-pronged. Just like aging and weakness took time, the fix takes time and patience. However, improvements will come much faster than you think with consistency. So read on for hope that you will once again be able to step out with confidence.
First, let’s look at some of the reasons for falls. And no, the first reason isn’t because you’re old. Young people trip and fall too, but usually their reflexes catch them before they hit the ground.
Not picking up your feet sufficiently while you walk or climb steps is very common. Sometimes people’s legs have become too weak to lift. Instead of lifting and placing a leg to move forward and using the back leg to propel, there is more of a forward falling of the torso and the leg has to quickly slide under the body in time. Short-stepping is a close relative to the shuffle.
Short stepping is brought on by fear. Fear of falling during the time it takes to lift and place the foot. This fear is directly proportional to the weakness in the individual legs. The individual legs are not strong enough to support the entire structure for even the briefest of times. This weakness in the individual leg is usually accompanied by a lack of balance.
OUT OF BALANCE
I’m not referring to the ‘sense of balance’ or your equilibrioception but the proper ratio of muscle from front to back and right to left. The correct proportions of muscles that pull on your skeleton are out of balance making your sense of balance out of whack. Mainly because you are out of whack.
YOU’VE LOST TOUCH
Finally, I’d like to address the foot. In our age of orthotics and ‘corrective’ footwear we
have lost touch with the ground. Our feet are no longer stimulated, they’ve become stiff, numb, weak and painful.
Now let’s look at how we can begin turning this train around. First of all, reflexes. Your reflexes can be stimulated with gentle exercises of both the slow and fast twitch muscles. We work on these muscles in the legs and feet in both the GentleFit and ForeverFit classes. I call them my anti-trip exercises. We do many, quick points and pulls with the foot to exercise the ankle and shins.
Leg weakness can be improved even from a seated position. I lead people through ‘get ups’ exercises and holds designed to condition the muscles and retrain people to use their legs instead of their hands to get up. And always on the proper form to prevent knee or low back injury.
Next, creatively focusing on ways to strengthen the legs individually is important for long, confident strides and climbing stairs. In this case the chair is an excellent tool for the very deconditioned person who has to start at zero from a position of safety. Using the chair to get into a lunge position is one of the moves we use along with strengthening the outer hip and more.
SET THEM FREE
We work in my classes without shoes. Pain comes from muscle wasting due to lack of use and immobility. Setting the feet free allows blood flow right down to the toes and into the bones. The toes get unstuck and the muscles are once again challenged to do what they were designed to do. New people need to begin my classes with only about 5 minutes without shoes until their feet are stronger.
Seeing and working with people every day in my fitness center teaches me what people need. Posterior atrophy has become epidemic. Our culture of sitting and easy living has wasted away our backsides and shortened our hamstring muscles. This wasting, atrophy and shortening leads to weakness and often pain.
Leading people through the gentle, corrective moves to improve muscle flexibility, range of motion and strengthening is key to a full life of movement and fall prevention. My site, MoveWithCassy.com is full of classes designed to work the entire body as a whole because our muscles, and therefore our problems, are not isolated. Our problems are usually multi-dimensional requiring a multi-pronged or integrated solution.
So take these gentle, integrated classes daily so you can remain independent and step out with confidence!