Fall Prevention Tips: Why You Need to Practice Falling

 

“Until you actually learn to fall, your nervous system will never truly know that it is actually safe to fall.” -Dr. Shante Cofield

I spend the majority of my time discussing concerns about falls with my clients, so it’s on my mind often. As a physical therapist specializing in empowering adults throughout the aging process, both the future and current risk of falls are the number one concern each of my clients express. And to guide them through this process, I have to help them analyze both the physical and psychological risk factors. Because they both play a major role.

Another one of my roles is to help all adults adopt forms of physical activity and exercise they enjoy. We’ve all heard the health benefits of physical activity, which are created by exposing ourselves to controlled stress. And this defines the actual purpose of exercise, or putting yourself in any uncomfortable situationTo allow your body to adapt by exposing yourself to...

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3 Simple Floor Mobility Drills

 

Wanting to gain some strength while improving your floor mobility? Try out these 3 simple but powerful floor mobility drills. A few things to keep in mind as you try these:

 You’ll get more out of them if you move as slow as you possibly can. I mean painfully slow.

 If you only get part of the way through the motion and find yourself plopping back on the floor, grab a few bolsters like a cushion to raise the level of the surface you're sitting on. Bolstering means meeting your body where it’s currently at and allowing you to work within your given range.

 This is an example of taking a bigger movement like floor transfers and breaking that movement down into smaller pieces to improve your technique and expand your options. You can do this with any skill, it’s super fun!

 

Looking for more on progressing your floor transfers and floor mobility? Check out the Mindful Movement Collective!

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5 Natural Movements You Should Be Able to Do at Any Age

In recent years, research continues to find that physical mobility is one of the strongest indicators of the risk of chronic disease as we age. In hospitals around the country, staff members at all levels are being trained to help screen patients for mobility upon admission and before their return to home. Walking is now considered a 6th vital sign and physicians are increasingly encouraged to screen their patients for their walking ability. 

In the clinic, we often aren’t seeing clients until they’re having a problem with their mobility. It’s our mission to make sure everyone has an awareness of subtle warning signs before there’s a problem. Upon every initial assessment, we screen our clients for 5 natural movements that give us a comprehensive picture of their mobility and help them guide their course of action. 

Below is the list of movements we perform at every initial assessment. If you can perform the 5 below movements AND maintain your...

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Want to Feel More Balanced? Start with Your Feet.

Did you know that 25% of your bones and muscles are located below the ankle? And yet our feet tend to be one of the most overlooked parts of our body, at least as far as proactive care goes. No one thinks about their feet until there’s a problem.

Due to the volume of joints and muscles of the feet, stiffness in this area of the body is one of the biggest contributors to balance problems. Your feet play a major role in the intricate systems that keeps you balanced. The more rigid your feet, the more difficult it is to balance.

One of the best places you can start to improve your balance is to improve the mobility of your feet. The more impact from the environment your feet absorb, the less work the rest of your body has to do to keep you balanced.

The first step to better foot mobility is to consider how you treat your feet daily. What kind of shoes do you wear? How much time do you spend with shoes off? How are your toes moving? Do you have foot pain? Are there caluses,...

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Video: The Best Balance Exercise

 

One of the first exercises we teach our new clients is the calf stretch. And for good reason!

We've written blog posts in the past about the importance of taking care of the health of your feet (which you can find here, here, and here). But long story short, your feet are your foundation. Improving your foot mobility is a great first step (pun intended) toward better health. 

Watch the video above to learn how to do the calf stretch. 

To set up: In this exercise, we use a half foam roll. But if you don't have a half foam roll a rolled up towel will work great! 

Take your shoes off, this exercise is best performed barefoot. Stand in front of your half foam roll (or towel) with your feet spaced pelvis width apart. Make sure your feet are aligned straight, like the cars on a tire. Look down and if they are angled outward take a minute to straighten them. Focus on maintaining this alignment throughout the exercise.

If you aren't sure about your balance, position...

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Balance: Does Your Perception Meet Reality?

 

Last summer for my 32nd birthday, I thought it would be a great idea to climb a tree. I hadn’t climbed a tree since I was very young, but it’s something I used to do all the time. So I thought nothing of it. Our front yard has a perfect climbing tree I’d been eyeing for some time.

We’ve all climbed trees as kids and felt confident in our ability to do it. The last time I climbed it was no problem and I assumed I would feel that way going into this. In fact, I thought getting myself onto the first branch would be easy. I could see a clear path to climb up a few branches beyond that.

But I think we all know where this story is going.

It turns out, climbing a tree is pretty difficult when you haven’t done it for a few decades. Not only did I need help getting up to the first low branch, once I was there I didn’t feel confident in my ability to stay balanced at all. I found myself staring at the ground, both hands on the branch, feeling as though I...

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5 Action Steps To Promote Falls Prevention

 

We don’t often think about our balance until it becomes a problem. In my work as a therapist, I’ve treated both younger and older adults with balance problems.

Balance is a complex system, involving communication between our brain, body, and sensory systems. A decline in any one of these can quickly become problematic.

We tend to associate balance problems with aging, but there isn’t a magical age you reach in which your balance starts to decline. Instead, physical decline begins the minute you stop challenging yourself.

The benefits of maintaining and improving your balance at any age are endless. You’re more likely to be capable to continue doing the activities you love as you age. You’ll worry less about falling, and have more confidence than adults who don’t have good balance. Research has even found a strong connection between balance and brain health. The better your balance, the sharper your mind as you age.

There are small ways you can...

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How Your Physical Health Relates to Your Mental Health

Brain health isn't a topic discussed often enough, particularly within the medical community. On the bright side, the topics of mental health and access to mental health services have come to light in the last few years. But, the aging brain is often left out of the conversation.

There are many unanswered questions about the decline in brain health with aging. The medical profession is starting to observe the differences in adults who experience brain atrophy and those who don’t. So, we're gaining some clarity. But, there's still so much we don't know.
 
The research identified some clear patterns in those who receive a diagnosis of dementia. But, keep in mind that patterns don't always give a clear cause. We know fall risk increases with increasing mental decline. We know poor mental health increases the risk of developing dementia. We know a connection exists between muscle weakness and dementia. What isn't as clear is why.
 
This is the 2nd part in a...
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How Does Balance Work Anyway?

Ever wondered how your body keeps its balance? Well, wonder no more! This is the question we'll address in this blog post.
 
In our work, we encounter balance issues that start at any age. It's no secret that the human body is complicated. Balance is no different. Your brain relies on input from several of your body's systems to map out your position in the world. This helps you stay upright to move about your world.  
 
Your body uses three main systems for this purpose. These systems communicate information with one another through nerves. This gives your brain information about your positioning at all times.
 
Healthy balance happens on a subconscious level. We shouldn't be aware all this work is going on behind the scenes. The first hint of awareness is a sign of a problem. Balance problems arise when any one of these systems, a combination of them, or the communication between these systems start to malfunction
...
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What is a Floor Transfer?

 

Why do we care so much about your ability to get on and off the floor?
 
Because the ability to get on and off the floor without the use of your hands is a strong physical predictor of early disability and death.
 
This is why one of the first skills we cover with new clients is getting on and off the floor. Not only is this a life-saving skill but it's also one of our favorite exercises for healthy aging!
 
There are an infinite number of ways you can get on and off the floor, as well as unlimited options for sitting positions once you are on the floor. The confidence to know you can safely and easily get off the floor decreases your future risk of falls!
 
If you're currently able to get yourself on and off the floor, continue to practice this skill daily. If you are unsure, see a physical or occupational therapist for a floor transfer test. 
 
A floor transfer test is nothing fancy. As shown in the pictures above, the...
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