According to the Center For Disease Control, one out of five falls will result in a serious injury such as a broken bone or a brain injury. It is important to understand ways to prevent falls to avoid injuries from occurring. Many avoid activity or change their activity level due to fear of falling. However, that might not be the best option either. The CDC also notes, keeping active is one way of keeping us stronger, which can also help us avoid falling. Exercising regularly is an important way to maintain strength, flexibility, and decrease risk of falling.
These 10 exercises, when done under the supervision of your physical therapist, can help you regain your balance and reduce your risk of falling.
- Simple Leg Lift –
Start with a kitchen chair setting in front of you. Steady yourself by holding onto the back of the chair, and raise one foot off the ground by bending your knee and bringing it up toward your waist. (It is preferable that you let go of the chair back so that you are balancing on your own without assistance, but if you’re unsure or unsteady, keep your hand on the chair.) Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, then try closing your eyes and holding the position for 5-10 seconds. Now use the other leg and do the same exercise.
- Weight Shifts –
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. With your hands to your sides, or on your hips, lift one foot an inch or two off the floor and hold it there for 20-30 seconds. Set it down and repeat with the opposite foot. If needed, you can also use a chair with this exercise to help give you added balance.
- One-Legged Clock -
Standing on one foot, extend your arms straight above your head, as though you are signaling 12 o’clock on a clock face. Leaving your right hand on the “12,” move your left hand to the three, six, and nine o’clock positions (pausing at each position). Return your left hand to the 12, and repeat the movements using your right hand. Now, switch feet and repeat. To increase your workout, do it with your eyes closed.
- Tai Chi –
Whether you sign up for a class, or follow along to online videos, Tai Chi has been shown to improve balance for its practitioners.
- Yoga –
Yoga has also been shown to improve the balance of those who practice it.
- Heel-to-Toe Walk –
This exercise is simple, yet effective. Walk 20 paces forward, heel-to-toe. If needed, do this within arm’s reach of a wall to help you with keeping your balance. After you go forward 20 paces, go backward 20 paces — toe-to-heel. Doing this on a regular basis can help you regain a sense of balance.
- Squat -
To do a squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Pretend you are sitting in an invisible dining chair. If needed, keep a chair behind you to help you get up and down. This exercise will help strengthen your leg muscles, which is crucial for the prevention of falls.
- Back Leg Raises –
You can hold on to a kitchen chair when doing these leg raises. Try not to lean forward or bend the knee of the leg you’re raising; just lift your leg as far off the ground as is comfortable for you, hold it for a couple of seconds, and let it back down. Do this for 10 reps, then do the same thing with the opposite leg. This helps to build lower back muscles as well as buttock muscles.
- Side Leg Raises –
Like with the Back Leg Raises, hold onto a kitchen chair. Then, standing on one foot, lift your other foot out to the side. Again, do this for 10 reps, then repeat with the opposite leg. This exercise not only helps strengthen your buttocks, but it also helps with your thigh muscles and your hip muscles.
- Stability Ball –
Learning to sit on a stability ball can help improve your core strength, as well as your balance.
While these exercises can be a good starting point to help you improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling, your physical therapist may have additional exercises or variations that they can tailor specifically for you.
Learn to improve your balance and prevent falling in this interactive workshop. Plus avoid the single biggest #1 mistake balance sufferers make. Call Hess Physical Therapy at 412-771-1055 today to find out the details.