Have you experienced a fall in the last 6 months?!? Are you worried about Falling Again?
Updated: Sep 21, 2018
Many of my readers know that experiencing a fall can have a dramatic affect on their lives. A fall can trigger a cycle of fear and avoiding situations that can actually put you at risk for another fall in the future. Let me explain. When you are worried that you might have a fall (and an injury to go along with it), you start to avoid places and activities that you feel might cause you to lose your balance. Because you are limiting what you are doing and where you are going, you begin to have declines in your strength and balance. And, you may even begin to lose the joy you have in life, because you are avoiding going places and doing things that bring you joy.
This seems like all bad news…but it’s NOT! There are simple things you can do to help improve your balance and strength and help you become more confident in your ability.
It will be helpful for you to know what are the systems built into our bodies that help us keep on our feet. There are 3 primary systems we will talk about today.
This picture give you an idea what those systems are.
1. Vision: We get information from our eyes to let us know where we are in space. Many times, we start to rely TOO much on our vision to help us stay steady. Do you find your self looking down at your feet/the ground when you are walking most of the time? If so, you may be too reliant on your vision. If you are required to look somewhere else- think scanning the grocery isles- you may feel unsteady.
2. Sensation/Proprioception (AKA- the feelings you get from your skin and your joints). These sensations are generally processed by your brain without you having to think about it. There are “processors” and signals that are sent to your brain about the positions of your joints, and feelings about what kinds of surfaces you are standing on/walking over.
3. Your Inner Ear- You may have heard people talk about having problems with their inner ear. They may complain of feeling “dizzy”. This is a topic for it’s own post, but we can touch on your inner ear a bit. It is fluid system that gives input to let you know where you are in space. It gets used more heavily when you can’t use the other 2 systems. For example- walking on a grassy surface in the evening/night. In this situation, vision is not the best, the surface and feedback from a grassy surface is variable= need to use your “inner ear”
These 3 systems work “in the background” without our having to think about them. But much like a muscle, if we don’t challenge them a lot or we begin to rely more on one than another, our balance can be negatively affected.
But, also much like a muscle, there are exercises you can do to “strengthen” these systems to help improve your balance!!
If you have experienced a fall or are currently feeling “off balance” chances that work in 2-3 of those areas could help you feel more confident and be safer. I will be writing a bit more about balance and fall risk over the next month, so keep an eye out here for more.
If you have specific questions about your situation, send me an email. I personally answer each one and would love a chance to help you feel more confident and regain access to the activities that bring you joy. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the Best,