Have you ever worried about falling when walking in the winter, taking the stairs or even walking without assistance? Exercise has a particularly positive effect on the most common modifiable intrinsic fall risk factors: muscle weakness, balance deficits and gait instabilities1. An important effect, considering those who sustain a fall related injury rarely return to their prior level of functional performance. Exercise for the promotion of balance should lay the foundation of any program aiming to reduce the risk of falling. This means challenging all states of balance (static, dynamic, proactive, reactive), under varying bases of support with decreasing levels of sensory input. This also means focusing resistance training on muscles of the lower extremities and trunk, since these muscles are key to postural equilibrium and thus the avoidance of falls. Sometimes strength needs to be the first foundational gain before balance exercises can be added to a home program. Individually tailored exercise programs can offer you a chance to improve on these risk factors, thus reducing your risk of falling and subsequent injury.
Gschwind, Y. J., Kressig, R. W., Lacroix, A., Muehlbauer, T., Pfenninger, B., & Granacher, U. (2013). A best practice fall prevention exercise program to improve balance, strength / power, and psychosocial health in older adults: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Geriatrics 13, 105. doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-105
Rose, D. J. & Hernandez, D. (2010). The role of exercise in fall prevention for older adults. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine 26(4), 607-631. doi:10.1016/j.cger.2010.07.003