Stability and balance are both important ways to prevent injuries at every age and stage of life. But for seniors, having good balance and stability can be especially important. Since seniors are more at risk of injury when they fall, the goal is to stop them from falling altogether.
It’s generally not possible to get through life without ever experiencing a fall, but there are ways to take precautions. Older people who are careful and who focus on balance exercises for seniors can maintain stability later in life.
What Causes Balance Issues as We Age?
A lot of people think that balance issues are caused by weak muscles or brittle bones. That can be true in some cases, but it’s not accurate for every senior. Instead, there are other issues that can make it harder to balance and more likely a senior will experience a fall.
One of these is changes in blood pressure and circulation, which can contribute to dizziness and lightheaded feelings when standing, increasing their chances of falling.
Additionally, there are some balance disorders that are caused by inner ear problems. People who experience vertigo, for example, are at risk of falling because they often feel dizzy. Fortunately, there are medications that can help many of these problems. In some cases, though, the dizziness can return without warning or the problems inside the ear may not be treatable with medication. These issues need to be managed on a case-by-case basis.
Health issues, such as a previous stroke, may contribute to balance and stability issues in seniors as well.
Understanding how to improve balance for seniors comes down to the individual in many cases. There are general exercises that can be done, but it’s important for seniors to work with professionals and make sure they’re doing the best exercises for their specific needs.
5 Foot and Ankle Exercises for Seniors
While these exercises can be done by people of any age and they’re low-impact options, this does make them easier for people who have limited mobility, as many seniors do. They’re also not strenuous exercises, which means they’re suitable for people who may have medical conditions that prevent them from doing cardio or exerting themselves heavily.
In order to best protect individuals from a fall and keep balance and stability as strong as possible as they head into their senior years, here are five exercises to start doing:
- Heel to Toe walking: Move the left foot in front of your right, placing your weight on your heel. Then, shift your weight to your toes. Repeat the next step with your opposite foot
- Ankle Circles: Start with small movements slowly around in circles on the right then repeat the same for the left ankle. Focus on only using your foot and ankle and not your entire leg.
- Heel Stand: Stand with a chair in front of you and begin my lifting your heel of the floor, then lower your heels and lift your toes of the floor
- Marching in Place: Stand with your feet slightly apart with a chair in front of you or wall behind you for support. March in place by gently lifting your knees high toward the ceiling.
- Tightrope walk: Hold your arms out straight from your side and walk in a straight line pausing for one to two seconds each time you lift your foot off the ground.
Some seniors will see more of a benefit from these balance exercises than others, but everyone who performs them has the opportunity to see improvement.
To make the most out of these exercises, seniors should work with their doctor to create a schedule for their specific needs and goals.
Considerations Before Starting
If you have poor balance or if you’ve fallen in the past, you’ll want to have a chair or other support item to hold onto while you exercise. To reduce the risk of having a fall when beginning these exercises, start out carefully and build up your stability and balance.
Make sure you consult with your doctor before you start exercising. Even low-impact exercises could put you at risk if you have certain conditions. Most people are safe to perform simple exercises that don’t cause a lot of strain on the body. However, it’s always advisable to make sure you’re taking the best possible care of yourself.
Working With Specialists Can Help
If you need more information on balance exercises for seniors or you want to find out what you can safely do in your individual situation to reduce your risk of experiencing a fall, give us a call today. We can work with you on all the ways you can improve your stability and balance as you age.
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