One of the biggest hurdles that impact the day-to-day lives of seniors is their ability to balance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of American adults 65 years or older fall each year. Of those, 20 percent to 30 percent are moderate to severe injuries. Even further, statistics on hip injuries are particularly alarming, as 90 percent of those are the result of falls.
Luckily, certain exercises can help strengthen muscles for better balance. Here are four:
Standing on one foot
Begin by standing about 12 inches behind a sturdy chair, holding onto the chair back for support. Lift one foot off the ground by bending your knee. Lifting as high up as comfortable, hold that position for 10 seconds. After returning to a resting position, repeat with the other leg. Alternate back and forth until each leg has done that movement between 10 and 15 times.
Just like with the previous exercise, stand behind a chair while holding onto the chair back for support. Then, lift one leg straight back as far as you can go without pointing your toes or bending your knee (a little bend for comfort is ok, but the point of this exercise is to move your entire leg, not just from the knee down). Hold that for 1 second before slowly returning the leg to rest. Alternate back and forth between legs, doing between 10 to 15 repetitions with each.
You can also add another exercise by performing a quick variation of this one. Following all of the same steps, simply lift your leg out to the side instead of behind you.
No, this will not involve walking on an actual tightrope, but the motions you will be making are similar to those of a tightrope walker.
Begin by finding some place with a straight line on the floor, like hardwood flooring or tile grouting. If you can't find anything, use painter's tape to make one. Starting at one end of the line, place your lead foot on the line and stand with your arms out straight for balance. To move, place your other foot directly in front of the one already on the line, so that the toe and heel touch. Continue walking in that manner down the line, for a total of about 20 steps.
This is a slight variation of the tightrope walk, so you want to make sure to begin in the same starting position. You will still be moving by putting one foot in front of the other, toe to heel, but with this exercise you will be pausing to help build extra balance.
When you lift your leg to move, bring your foot in line with your other knee, or lower for added comfort, and hold it there for one second before bringing it down. Perform for 20 steps.
If you want to try this movement before incorporating it into the walk, perform that motion while standing behind a chair for balance. Hold it longer that you would for the walk, 10 seconds, that way when you build it into the walk it will seem easier. Do this 10 to 15 times for each leg.
For additional help with balance, schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor right away.