Balance Training and Fall Prevention for the Active Geriatric Population
As we age, many changes are happening, including balance, vision, and proprioception that all decrease, which leads to increase risk for falls. Now you may ask, how do we address this? Well that is with balance exercises! A big question amongst people is whether shoes should be worn during these activities. The foot is your mobile adapter, and wearing sneakers takes away from the natural strengthening and stabilizing ability of the foot. Barefoot exercise will help improve balance and alignment. The ability to feel the ground gives you increased proprioception to feel where your foot is being placed and strengthen the foot. Physical therapy can help address balance difficulties and fall risks. Working on strength, center of gravity and proprioception in various planes of motion will help to improve the bodies response to challenges it may endure to your balance. Adding in larger ranges of motion, use of arm and leg motions allows for self-perturbations that allows for increased challenge to balance and increased strengthening and stabilization opportunities.
Yoga and Pilates based exercises are also extremely beneficial for the improvement in balance in many studies – especially for the geriactive population. Improvement in balance and physical fitness with these programs also has been shown to help improve mood states, quality of life, independence in daily activities and fall reduction. Tai Chi addresses orientation and speed of visual tracking, multiple foot placements and moving body in multiple planes, controlling respiration with one breath per movement which all play a role in balance and reducing risk for falls.
Whether you have had a fall, have a fear of falling, or just feel unsteady on your feet, there are many ways to get started with balance training! Get involved in group classes or contact your Physical Therapist!