Top 5 Exercises to Prevent Falls
Falls are a commonly overlooked cause of injury in older adults, accounting for more than 50% of injury related hospitalisations among people over 65 years. This is a major public health issue, costing the NHS over £2 billion, and over 4 million bed days, every year. Research suggests that approximately 28-35% of people aged over 65, and 32-42% of those of 70 years of age, fall each year; accounting for the most common cause of death from injury in the over 65s (1).
On top of the economic implications, falls can have a huge impact on the quality of life in older people. Following a fall, an older person has a 50% chance of having their mobility seriously impaired and a 10% probability of dying within a year. This leads to a huge loss of confidence and independence, increasing isolation within this population.
However, there is good news! We do not believe that falls should be seen as 'inevitable' or 'a normal part of ageing'. At Surrey Physio we provide falls prevention advice and exercises to help older people reduce falls. We provide balance training so older patients can reduce their risk of falling. Falling can be prevented and minimised. It just takes time, some effort and some care. We want all seniors to stay steady on your feet and minimise the risk of falling, which we will cover in this programme.
Causes of falls:
In order to reduce falls, firstly we need to look at the reasons why you may be at risk of falling. There are a number of factors associated with falls and it is often a combination of these that lead to a fall. The main influencing factors are related to physiological changes associated with aging; including things such as declining eyesight, reduced muscle strength and long-term conditions affecting mobility. Factors associated with your environment can also increase your risk of trips and falls, which we call extrinsic factors.
Falls can also happen as a result of a medical condition, or dizziness caused by medication or fluctuating blood pressure. These are things that should be managed by your GP or other healthcare providers.
Top 5 Exercises for Falls Prevention:
Step Up and Downs: Stand upright in front of the bottom step of your staircase, holding on to a rail for support. Step up onto the first step with one leg, and bring the other leg to the step to meet it. With control, lower this same foot back to the floor, followed by the other. Repeat 15 times, twice per day.
Wall Slides (Half Squat): Stand upright, with your back resting against a wall and your feet slightly away from the side of the wall. Open your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, and bend your knees to the 1/2 squat position. Make sure you keep the middle of your knee-cap in line with the middle toes of your foot. Return to the start position. This is a strengthening exercise for the legs. Repeat ten repetitions daily.
Single Leg Balance (with Support): Stand on one leg, and try to keep your balance. Be careful and hold on to a wall or table for support when you first start this exercise. A single leg balance exercise such as this is an enormously valuable exercise, and its benefits including strengthening the muscles and ligaments around the ankles and knees, and improving balance. Hold this position for 30 seconds and build it up to one minute with practice. Repeat twice per day.
Single Leg Balance (without Support): Stand on one leg, and try to keep your balance. Be careful and hold on to a wall or table for support when you first start this exercise, but as you feel more confident you can reduce contact and support from the wall or table. A single leg balance exercise such as this is an enormously valuable exercise, and its benefits including strengthening the muscles and ligaments around the ankles and knees, and improving balance. Hold this position for 30 seconds and build it up to one minute with practice. Repeat twice per day.
Sit to Stand: Sit upright with good posture, and place your hands on the side of the chair. Gently lean forwards and use as much leg strength as you can to push yourself up. Use your hands and arms to assist. Once upright, stand up straight. When you feel comfortable, slowly sit back down, guiding yourself by using your arms. Try to keep a straight spine during the sitting rather than let your back round forwards too much. This exercise will strengthen your legs and core. Repeat ten times, twice per day.
Preventing falls is an important part of keeping people safe and independent. Falls can lead to serious injury, disability, and even death. Falls are a leading cause of injury-related hospital admissions and can result in significant costs for healthcare systems. Additionally, falls can lead to a decrease in quality of life, including a decrease in physical and mental functioning, which can lead to further health issues. Therefore, it is important to prevent falls in order to maintain good health and quality of life.
(Physios and Therapists: these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises www.rehabmypatient.com. Patients: if you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).