Use it or lose it – Falls Prevention Tips

As we progress through later decades of our lives, a nasty phenomenon called ‘sarcopenia’ dawns upon us. This entails deteriorating muscle mass, strength and ability to keep us optimally engaged in our day-to-day activities. Our bone mineral density (BMD) also starts to plummet. You might have heard of osteopenia or osteoporosis, or even diagnosed with it. This increases our risk of fractures and disability if we trip and take a nasty tumble.

Studies have shown that optimal posture, progressive physical activity/ exercise and T score >-0.1 (BMD measure) help to combat age-related frailty, wound repair rates, health and falls risk. This allows us to do our jobs around home, run around with grandkids without needing to stop for frequent breaks, or bushwalk without face-planting and fracturing a limb! 

Use it or lose it 

Common concerns include “I don’t know where to start!” or “I’m too unfit for this!”. Regardless of your fitness level, we have designed 5 beneficial moves you should include in your daily regime targeting postural, stabilising and posterior kinetic chain muscles. These combine strength, balance and coordination. Strive to complete 2 sets of each exercise – and let us know how you go!

Do You Know…

Our clinic runs weekly Group Strength classes – with focus on functional movement, addressing muscular imbalances and increasing your ability to face life like a lean machine! In the long run, these help with chronic pains/ niggles, metabolism, hormonal homeostasis and warding off comorbidity risks. We also run 1:1 sessions for a more individualised exercise program tailored to your goals and conditions. Private health rebates are available for both. Book in for a session, and we’ll help you become the better version of yourself! 

  1. Tippy Toe Lifts

Benefits:

  • Activates calf muscles which help with balance and gait
  • Recruits postural muscles for improved posture and more distributed joint loading

Instructions:

Imagine a plumb line from the centre of your skull down your spinal column, knees and balls of the feet.

Shift your weight onto the balls of your feet and tip toe as high as you can.

Think about spreading your toes rather than bunching up, and applying pressure across them. This allows you to recruit more lower limb muscles that help with stability and load distribution. 

Focus also on squeezing your buttocks, activating your pelvic floor and back, whilst gently tucking your chin in for better posture.

Remain elevated for 2-3sec, then a controlled 1-2sec descent. 

Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Precautions:

  • Hold on lightly to the wall or a chair if you aren’t confident in your balance. Ensure you maintain a vertical rather than rounded position.

Advanced options: 

  • Lift 1 foot off the ground and tip toe only through the other foot. Ensure your posture remains upright and the supporting knee is not buckling under
  1. Tandem Walks

Benefits:

  • Improves dynamic balance by managing task with increased centre of gravity

Instructions:

Walk in a straight line, placing 1 foot directly in front of the other.

Keep your eye gaze forward, shoulders positioned back & down, with arms relaxed beside throughout.

Perform 4 laps of 10metres.

Precautions:

  • Perform exercise beside a wall to break potential falls
  • Extend arms to the side to help with balance if needed
  • If walking is too difficult, stand in place for 30sec instead

Advanced options:

  • Walk backwards!
  • Lift the knee high before each foot landing
  1. Deadlifts

Benefits:

  • Strengthens posterior kinetic chain for improved posture and load distribution, and potentially help with back pain

Instructions:

Stand with feet apart at hip width distance, holding onto weighted items/ dumbbells. Perform a big shoulder roll, fixing your shoulder blades back & down. 

Keeping eye gaze forward and head retracted, hinge at your hips and drive your buttocks backwards to lower yourself. Ensure just a tiny bend of knees.

Maintain a neutral spine – NO ARCHING!

The weighted items should be grazing/ kept close to your front thighs.

Get creative with equipment! If you don’t own dumbbells, fill up grocery bags with existing pantry/ household items.

Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

  1. Compass Foot Taps

Benefits:

  • Improve dynamic balance 
  • Strengthens stabilising muscles and ligaments which helps with proprioception and gait

Instructions:

Place 4 items on the floor indicating North, South, East & West – each item approximately 3 feet apart.

Stand in the centre, lifting 1 foot off the ground and keeping the supporting knee slightly bent.

Reach the elevated foot towards each item – getting into a half squat position with each extension.

During the squat, press your weight into the supporting heel and stick your buttocks back – this puts less stress on the knees and activates the lower limb muscles more effectively. Focus on pointing both knees straight whilst keeping hips faced forwards throughout! A mirror may be a beneficial visual cue to help you notice any hip drops which indicate weakness in supporting muscles.

Perform 3 rounds on each side.

Precautions

  • Decrease the depth of your squat if you feel too unsteady 

Advanced options:

  • Go deeper with your squat
  • Include markers at NE, SE, NW, SW points
  1. Standing Doorway Stretch

Benefits:

  • Improves thoracic mobility and lengthens pec muscles for improved posture and manage tightness from upper crossed syndrome

Instructions:

Stand sideways to a wall – elbow just below shoulder height and bent at 90degrees.

Leveraging on your forearm closer to the wall, take a small step forward with the leg on the same side.

Keeping your spin upright and shoulders relaxed – rotate your body away from the wall until you feel a stretch across your chest and upper arm.

Hold the stretch for 30sec, then repeat on the other side.

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