One of the most common issues with ageing is the increased susceptibility to falling. One of the most important things to remember is that by staying active and doing what you love, you have the power to minimise the risk of falling. Although simple, these exercises are capable of giving you greater control over the type of lifestyle you enjoy – and here’s why.
When it comes to movement, the brain plays the biggest role in controlling what the body does. When we move our body, it gives feedback up to the brain, which the brain loves. Every time we go for a walk, lift our feet or wave our hands, the brain is continually receiving information about how the body is feeling and moving. The other major advantage of regular movement is that the brain is also able to have greater control over these movements because the connection between the brain and body becomes stronger and more efficient. Below I want to introduce you to three exercises that help stimulate and strengthen the control of the body parts that really matter in keeping you confident while on your feet.
Locate the two pointy bones on the inside and outside of the ankle and give them a firm rub with your fingers. This will firstly wake up a lot of the nerves in your ankle sensors which relay important information to your brain. We want you to be able to feel as much in your ankles as possible so when you’re walking you can adjust your foot position quickly if you need to.
Now that you have woken the ankles up by rubbing them it’s time you take things one step further and wake up the rest of your feet with movement! Pretend your big toe is a pen and imagine a whiteboard in front of your foot. Draw clear circles with your big toe on the imaginary whiteboard. Five in one direction and five in the other. Do this with your right foot and then with your left. Pay attention to making the circles as clear as you can and notice which foot feels easier – your challenge is to make them the same!
Exercise number three is the big one. If there were one muscle group which is best linked to keeping seniors independent and capable of getting up and out of chairs it’s the quadriceps or fronts of the thighs. As you’re sitting in your chair you’re going to sit up tall and beginning with your right leg you’re going to straighten it away from you. You are going to extend it in and out 10 times on one side then 10 on the other side. To challenge yourself a little bit more don’t let the foot touch the ground in between each repetition.
Although these exercises are very simple they are amongst the most prescribed exercises to help reduce the risk of falling for seniors. They can be done in less than five minutes, however, the power they have in affecting the way you move and risk of falling lasts for a lot longer. For the best outcomes, try and perform these exercises twice per day to ensure your connection between brain and body remains efficient to provide the movement you desire. This simple investment in regular movement often brings greater confidence and allows you to lead the lifestyle you desire and deserve.
Take care of yourselves, stay moving and I look forward to passing on more of the successful strategies that have helped many other seniors.