The Med Gym
Balance and Fall Prevention - Introduction
By David Drinks
How good is your balance? Have you tested it recently?
One of the most surprising tests to many of our clients at The Med Gym during the initial assessment that we do is also one of the simplest tests we do – single-leg balance.
It’s not that they’re surprised we’re testing balance; it’s that they're surprised at how much they lack the ability to balance!
For many adults – particularly older adults, but not always – the loss of the ability to simply stand on one foot and balance for 30 seconds can be a wake-up call that their balance needs to be improved.
This simple test has remarkable ramifications on your ability to functionally balance and move well.
If you lack the ability to balance for 30 seconds on each leg without needing to put the other foot down or hold onto something, then balance immediately becomes one of the most important categories of fitness for your exercise routine.
We often tell clients who are surprised that they have lost the ability to balance for 30 seconds on one leg that it’s not unusual for clients we test to be surprised. Balance simply isn’t something that we test or challenge ourselves in very often in life.
Many people spend most of their life sitting, laying down, or firmly planted on two legs. The closest thing they do to practicing their balance is to walk or climb stairs.
While our culture and modern conveniences have made it easier to get away without challenging your balance for longer in life, I would argue that this is not a positive thing. Most people go through life gradually losing strength, function, and balance; they just don’t know it until it’s too late.
So, if you haven’t checked your balance recently, then it’s time to test yourself. Simply get a timer, stand next to a wall, and without holding on, try to balance on one leg for 30 seconds.
Can you do it?
If you can’t, count how many times you need to put a hand on the wall or put the other foot down to regain your balance.
Once you know where your balance is at, you have a baseline. If your baseline says that your balance isn’t where it should be, then it’s time to get started working on your balance!
Why Is Balance So Important?
Balance is a critical physical skill for numerous reasons.
Your ability to balance dictates your ability to perform functional, everyday movements. Better balance means a better opportunity to move well, do more things, and avoid injury.
Balance allows you to remain independent as you age.
Loss of balance leads to a higher risk of falling – one of the leading causes of injury and death in older adults.
You see, if you can balance well, you can do more things independently for longer without fear of injury or falling.
According to the CDC:
In the United States, an older adult dies from a fall every 20 minutes.
Fall death rates have risen by 30% from 2007-2016. If they continue to rise at this rate, we can anticipate 7 fall deaths every hour by 2030.
In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion.
Obviously, these are concerning and serious statistics. However, there is good news for you!
Losing balance, falling, and sustaining an injury from falling is not inevitable. In fact, it is one of the most preventable things out there!
While there are many factors that are correlated to falling, and many things that can increase your risk of falling and becoming injured, one of the most important factors is your ability to maintain your strength, balance, and function as you age.
Your risk of falling and becoming seriously injured from a fall can be largely mitigated by what you choose to do right now. You have the power to increase your balance, strength, agility, and resilience through a proper training routine.
In the coming weeks, I’ll dive further into what factors put you most at risk for falling, and how you can train your body to avoid falls and injury!
So, be sure to stay tuned for next week’s post to get started on your journey to better balance and strength.
In the meantime, don’t forget to test your balance!
Want to learn more about training your body to Move Better, Feel Better, and Live Better? Our exercise programs at the Med Gym are custom made to get you exactly what you need.
Whether you come into the gym or work with us via Med Gym Online, we can help you get on the right track with your movement and fitness.
Contact us here to talk about how we can help you develop an exercise routine that improves your balance and so much more!