Balance, Hip Joints and the avoidance of Falls.
As we age generally our bones get softer and/or more brittle. Therefore it is important that we protect ourselves against falls.
The best and most important way to protect the bones is to do exercise and plenty of it, particularly in our 20’s. This is a big issue for women in particular as far too few do exercise in their 20’s and as a result end up with very weak bones structures after the menopause. As an aside if you know any teenagers/people in their 20’s please ensure they exercise regularly. I know they are invincible and ageing won’t happen to them and having a back that cannot support its own weight is for little old ladies not for them, however all these little old ladies were in their 20’s once, and they probably had a better diet then the youth of today (tut)…
So, back on point, we need to develop and maintain our balance as we age, therefore if you have elderly relatives, please have them perform the following exercises on a regular basis to help prevent falls.
Ankle rotations – easy – both directions, both ankles, only try both at the same time if you’re sitting… The aim is to have smooth movements and a large range of motion. The bigger and smoother the movement the better.
Increase information from foot. Roll foot over ball, ideally a soft spiky spongy ball, failing that a tennis ball or even a squash ball will do, whatever is lying around. Roll this around under foot to increase feedback, remember the more we use a nerve the stronger the nerve gets. Starting with rolling in circles then try to write out letters, whilst sitting.
Finally and after much practice of the other two, practice one leg stands. Initially with eyes open, then progress to eyes closed. Do this next to a wall. If you have elderly relatives, do not let them try this on their own, at least not at first.
The aim is to practice each exercise once a day, just whilst you’re relaxing. Or if you want you can use them more. One patient, years ago, needed to recover from an ankle sprain in time to run the Marathon De Sable, so as well as working with his spine I had him doing these same exercises. As you can imagine he was doing them a lot, serving customers whilst standing on one leg, rotating the other ankle… Some customers were standing there a while before he opened his eyes and saw them… However he did it, got back the strength he needed and completed the equivalent of 5.5 marathons (in the desert) in 7 days…
I will not entertain you with the neurology underlying these exercises, (unless you would like the explanation, in which case please ask) just advise you that everyone will benefit from bringing these into their lives.
Just before I finish I recently read an article stating that supplementation with 700 to 1000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 has also been shown to reduce the frequency of falls in the elderly. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=198636
I hope you enjoyed this blog on balance, hip joints avoidance of falls for the elderly. As ever if you have any questions or comments please leave them below or send an email to your friendly West End Chiropractor (yes that is me in case you were wondering).
Yours in Health
Dr Gary Blackwood
White Tree Chiropractic ltd