Exercises to Improve Your Balance and Reduce the Risk of a Fall

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1 Exercises to Improve Your Balance and Reduce the Risk of a Fall As we age, we are often more prone to falls and injuries. Each year, more than 1½ million older Americans go to an emergency room for an injury from a fall. A fall can cause serious injuries broken bones especially in the hand, arm, ankle or hip, or injuries to the face or head. Improving your balance, strength, and flexibility through exercises and activities will greatly reduce your risk of a fall. These exercises can help with walking up and down stairs, standing on tiptoe to reach something high up, and walking on uneven surfaces. You may feel more comfortable going places that have stairs and find outdoor activities more enjoyable. Safety First It is important do these exercises safely to avoid any injuries while doing them. First, talk with your doctor if you feel you have problems with balance or you have had any recent injuries or surgery. You may want to show your healthcare provider these exercises to see if there are any that you should not do. These exercises should not hurt or cause pain. Some people prefer to start with a group or class. There are many exercise programs such as the Silver Sneakers that emphasize balance, stretching, and strength. Check in your area for programs and with your insurance provider. Sometimes these programs are offered as a part of your wellness coverage. As You Begin It is a good idea to have someone with you as you first start doing these exercises. Be sure to wear comfortable and supportive shoes. Find a safe place with a clear path and a wall close by to touch for balance as needed. Start by choosing a few of these exercises and add more as you get comfortable. Try to find a time of day that works well for you. Have something to remind you built into your routine. 1

2 Balance Exercises Heel-to-Toe Walk 1. Place the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch. 2. Focus on a spot ahead of you at eye level to help steady you as you walk. 3. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toes of your other foot. 4. Repeat for 20 steps. Balance Walk - This is another way of doing the heel to toe walk. 1. Raise arms to sides, shoulder height. 2. Focus on a spot ahead of you at eye level to help steady you as you walk. 3. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other. 4. As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward. 5. Repeat for 20 steps. Stand on One Foot 1. Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. 2. Hold for up to 10 seconds. 3. Repeat 10 to 15 times. 4. Repeat 10 to 15 times with the 5. Rest. Repeat 10 to 15 more times 2

3 Strengthening Exercises Stronger muscles help with balance. Leg Straightening and Lifting - Makes legs and knees stronger and can be done in bed on top of the covers or on the floor. 1. Lie flat on your back with one leg bent at the knee. 2. Breathe out, tighten thigh muscle on the straight leg, and lift the leg while keeping ankle bent. Keep your other leg bent at the knee. 3. Repeat 10 times. Repeat with the Also do this exercise lying on each side and lying on your stomach. Remember to breathe out as you lift your leg. Back Leg Raise - Strengthens buttocks and lower back. Try this right after you get up from the table after breakfast. 1. Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly. 2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg straight back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Try not to lean forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent. your leg. 6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with the 7. Rest. Repeat 10 to 15 more times 3

4 Side Leg Raise - Strengthens hips, thighs, and buttocks. 1. Stand behind a sturdy chair with feet slightly apart, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly. 2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg out to the side. Keep your back straight and your toes facing forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent. your leg. 6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with the 7. Rest. Repeat 10 to 15 more times Knee Curl - Helps with walking and climbing stairs 1. Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Lift one leg back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Breathe in slowly. 2. Breathe out and slowly bring your heel up toward your buttocks as far as you can. Bend only from your knee, and keep your hips still. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent. your foot to the floor. 6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with the 7. Rest. Repeat 10 to 15 more times 4

5 Toe Stand - Strengthens calves and ankles. 1. Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly. 2. Breathe out and slowly stand on tiptoes, as high as you can. heels to the floor. 6. Rest. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Stretching Exercises Tight muscles reduce flexibility. Keeping your lower legs and ankles flexible with help improve balance. Ankle Stretch - Can be done while watching TV. 1. Sit securely toward the edge of a chair. 2. Stretch leg out in front. 3. With your heel on the floor, bend your ankle to point toes toward your nose. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Calf Stretch 1. Stand facing wall, arm s length away from wall. 2. Put palms flat on wall at shoulder height. 3. Step forward with right leg and bend right knee. Bend left knee until you feel a stretch. 4. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. 5. Repeat using 5

6 Check Your Progress To measure your balance and progress: 1. Stand on one foot without holding on to anything. 2. Time how many seconds you can do this. Do this about once a month. You should see your times increase. You will also be feeling your improved balance in your daily activities. Adding More Challenge As you improve you can make the exercises harder to further improve your balance. For any of these exercises that you hold onto a sturdy chair, you can try: Holding on with one hand instead of two. Touching just against the chair with a finger. Doing them without touching the chair. Closing your eyes while doing the exercises - the most challenging. For the strengthening exercises, you can try: Adding ankle weights start with light weights and increase as desired. Keeping These Up With any exercise program, it is easy to slack off as time goes on. The best way to avoid this is to work these exercises into your daily activities: You can stand on one foot while waiting in line. Walk toe to heel when getting your mail or newspaper. Do any of the chair exercises right after you get up from sitting. Remember to keep yourself motivated, measure your progress and see the results from your routine. Having good balance often makes you feel younger and more confident. Dev. 4/13, Rev. 7/13 \\Mcehemcshare\netit patient education$\mount Carmel Handouts\Rehab and Exercise\Exercises\Exercises to Improve Your Balance and Reduce the Risk of a Fall.doc Mount Carmel

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