Having a balance in all areas of your life is important. However one area that you really need to pay attention to as you get older is your physical balance. If you think that you already have good balance then it’s important to maintain it, and if you are a bit wobbly on your feet then you need to work on your balance to save you from accidents that could really set you back.
Just recently I received an email from my cousin telling me that she was laid up and in severe pain caused by a cracked vertebrae in her back. I asked how it happened and the answer I got was not what I expected. It wasn’t doing anything daring or exciting by any means, she had been in her walk in closet pulling on her pants lost her balance and fell. I went to visit her and she had other examples of how loss of balance had caused other friends to have accidents too. She said from now on I am going to sit down to put my pants on and do up my shoes. I never realized just how much loss of balance you get as you get older.
My cousin is in her mid 60’s she swims 3 or 4 times a week in order to stay fit so she is totally aware of the importance of exercise, but her balance ability she hadn’t really given any thought to as most of us don’t until something happens. She told me of one of her friends around the same age had recently gone to visit her grandchildren, they were playing hopscotch outside and she decided to join them to show them how she used to play it as a child. She lost her balance, fell and broke her arm. A friend of mine climbed on a chair to get something off a shelf, she lost her balance fell off the chair and broke her big toe she ended up in a cast for several weeks. It happens way more than you would think and is so easily done. It happens in a flash.
Accidents will happen at any age but once over 50 you have to be extra careful our bones are not as strong and neither is our balance making it a potentially dangerous situation. We cannot afford these bumps and falls in our senior years, we aren’t as flexible and we don’t recover as quickly as when we were younger so it’s extremely important to try to maintain a strong balance to prevent unnecessary mishaps and injury.
Here are some suggestions that may help you with your balance.
- If you already have decent balance using a large exercise ball can be helpful in maintaining it. I like to sit on the exercise ball and first do some hip rotations and leg stretches. Then I work on my balance. I pick a spot to keep my eyes on so that I’m not wobbling all over the place, while focusing on my core muscles I raise my right leg in front of me and hold steady for a slow count of 20 then lower my leg and do the same with my left leg. I repeat this at least twice and try to do it daily. In the beginning I couldn’t steady myself for more than a 5 count but worked up to the 20 and more.
On the other hand if you are already very unsteady then this is probably not a good idea as the ball can roll away from you and you can fall. It would be better to start doing some balancing exercises where you are actually holding onto something such as a chair. You can always move to an exercise ball once you find better balance. Just remember to do things gradually until you are comfortable and you will soon notice an improvement
- The sit and stand exercise – From a sitting position stand up preferably without holding onto anything but if you are unsure do hold onto something until you get better at it. From the standing position sit down again, repeat 5 times to start and work up to 10 times.
- Holding onto a chair stand on one leg then switch to the other. Once you have the knack of doing it increase the time you stand on one leg and if possible gradually ease your hold on the chair but keep the chair near so that you can grab hold of it to steady yourself if you need to.
- Dancing is an excellent exercise and great for balance. Besides being a great exercise its lots of fun so whether you go out to a class or dance around you home have some fun with it, put on some music you like and go for it.
- Exercise bands can be a great choice you can use them sitting or standing. Personally I like the wide bands like they use in physio, they are excellent for exercising the muscles in your feet as will dancing which will give you a stronger stance and help with balance.
Exercise will help keep muscles, joints and bones stronger and lessen the chances of falling and maybe seriously injuring yourself. Remember do not take chances, always have something to hold onto close at hand then it’s there if you need it.