10 Balancing Exercises to Prevent Elderly Falls
As you get older, the fear of experiencing a fall-related injury becomes all too real. In fact, falls in the elderly are among the most common causes of injury for people over the age of 65. Unless you consistently maintain healthy eating habits and exercise routines throughout your life, your balance and level of flexibility will continue to diminish over time. For that reason, it’s extremely important to maintain or establish a healthy lifestyle that includes balancing and flexibility exercises on a daily basis.
The balancing and flexibility exercises listed below are intended mainly for elderly people who are looking to improve their overall range of mobility and level of physical activity, so they can live independently without the fear of sustaining an injury.
1. One Leg Standing (Single Limb Stance)
Like many of the other exercises that can help prevent senior falls, one leg standing, which is also known as single limb stance, can be done by people of all fitness levels and there are different modifications you can use depending on your comfort level. The point is to teach you how to properly balance on one leg. Some people might feel more comfortable using a stable piece of furniture such as a chair or countertop to hold on to for support, while others might feel perfectly comfortable simply balancing on one leg. The length of time spent balancing on one leg is also flexible as long as equal time is given to both limbs.
2. Toe Touches
In addition to improving your balance, toe touch exercises have numerous other benefits. They can stretch out your lower back and keep it limber while also strengthening your lower legs and feet, which are instrumental to maintaining your balance. Simply stretch out one foot or both feet straight out in front of you and gently reach either one or both arms forward to try to touch your toes. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t reach your toes as the point of the exercise is to help stretch out your hamstrings and improve your balance. Repeat this motion as many times as you feel comfortable doing so.
3. Leg Stretches
Sit down on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you and gently fold your body forward to reach out to your toes. You can either do this one leg at a time, with both legs stretched out simultaneously, or with both feet on the ground depending on your comfort level.
4. Chair Squats
Squatting is an excellent way to strengthen your lower legs, thighs, and knees. Unfortunately, this move might not be accessible to everyone, as many seniors suffer from knee and back problems. However, you can modify this maneuver to make it easier to do by placing a stable chair in front of you and holding on to it as you gently bend your knees. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and slowly bend your knees until they become aligned with your toes. Make sure you don’t overdo it and only descend to a level that’s comfortable for you, then gently use your leg muscles to lift yourself back up.
This exercise is an excellent way to help stabilize and improve your balance. Place a long strip of painters’ tape along the floor that stretches from one end of the room to the other. This will be your guide and help keep your walking trajectory straight. Then simply place both feet horizontally on the tape and slowly walk from one side to the other by placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the other foot. Repeat this exercise as many times as you feel comfortable.
6. Standing Quadriceps Stretches
This stretch stimulates the quadriceps muscles that are located at the very front of your thighs and is especially helpful if you lead a generally sedentary lifestyle. Stand up straight and use either a wall or the back of a sturdy chair for support as you slowly lift one leg up behind you, gently bending your knee. Hold the foot with the corresponding hand and then pull your foot in slightly toward your back without applying too much force or pressure. You should feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold this pose for anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds, or as long as you feel comfortable, and then slowly lower your leg and switch sides.
7. Standing Hip Extensions
Hip openers such as standing hip extensions can help boost the strength of your knees and legs by stretching out your muscles in these areas. Place a strong support system in front of you. It can be a countertop, chair, or even a wall. Then, as you hold on to your support system, firmly place one foot on the ground, stand up straight, and slowly move the other foot backwards, away from the support system. Make sure to keep your leg nice and straight and hold this posture for about 30 to 60 seconds before switching to the other side. Repeat this movement as many times as you can. In some cases, it might be helpful to have someone you trust holding on to you as you do this.
8. Ankle Stretches
There are several ankle stretches you can do to help you steadily stabilize your balance and increase flexibility in your legs over time. If you’re sitting down, make sure you’re seated upright in a comfortable chair and place one foot firmly on the ground as you gently stretch your other leg. If you’re standing, you can use a support system on either side of your body. Stretch out one leg, gently point your toes forward, and then point your toes up toward the ceiling. Alternate this movement between both feet.
There’s no need for a gym when you have a staircase in your home. This is an easy and safe exercise you can do in the comfort of your home as long as you hold on to the railing. Simply place one foot on the step in front of you, lift yourself up, and then put the foot back down next to your other foot. Alternate feet as many times as you can.
All you need for this exercise is an ergonomically correct chair that promotes good posture in your back. The key is to mindfully sit down on the chair, keeping your back nice and straight, and then use your leg muscles to lift yourself back up to a proper standing position. Repeat this movement as many times as possible.
Home Care Assistance – Toronto/York Region is one of the leading home healthcare services in Toronto that specifically caters to the needs of individual seniors. Our specially trained professional caregivers provide personalized care to help your elderly loved ones maintain their independence and continue living at home. Having a trained professional at their disposal to help them carry out their everyday tasks and maintain an active social life effectively prevents elderly falls from taking place. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer.
Image Credit: iStock.com/Zinkevych
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