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Falls Are Not Inevitable

By: Dr. Roger Landry

If you knew that standing on one leg while brushing your teeth could help prevent you from falling, resulting in a serious injury, would you do it? I know one woman who does just that. By standing on one leg while brushing her teeth, she is programming better balance in her inner ear, in her muscles, and in her brain. Integrating small practices that challenge our balance can reduce the likelihood of falling, and if we do fall, make it less likely we will experience a serious injury. Here are five tips to keep you moving on your path with confidence…

1. Keep Moving: Don’t let the fear of falling cause you to stop moving. Movement aids in maintaining balance, muscle strength and reaction time and decreases the chance of injury.

2. Dump Those “Slip and Trip” Hazards: Identify and eliminate hazards. If you’ve ever tripped over or bumped into something even once, consider moving it; power cords, furniture, rugs, loose stairway boards, above ground tree roots, anything that is a potential threat, especially on paths you use frequently, such as your trip to the bathroom. Use extra caution in low-lit areas and wet areas. And, be mindful of bifocals. Looking down through a reading lens can cause you to misjudge your step.

3. Keep and Build Your Strength: Well-functioning muscles developed through strength training can help you avoid falling as well as recover from a misstep. Good muscle tone also supports joints and bones, making fractures less likely if there is a fall.

4. Check in With Your Doctor: Be proactive in lowering your fall risk by getting your vision checked annually and asking your doctor if any of your medications can cause dizziness. Stay hydrated, and if you do require a walking aid, make sure you learn how to use it correctly.

5. Weight No More: When we are overweight, the likelihood of a fall increases. If you are trying to lose weight, start small by just eating 10% less of what you have been eating and start moving just a little bit more each day.