Trips, Slips and Falls

Trips, slips and falls are common causes of injuries at home and work. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of taking a tumble is to improve your strength and balance.

Strength

Strengthening your leg muscles reduces the chance of falling if you do lose your balance, as strong legs are pillars that support and help stabilize you. While any activity that uses your legs is good, it is important to find something you enjoy. Here are a couple of easy suggestions to keep you strong and on the move!

• Brisk walking. Walking requires no special equipment other than a pair of supportive shoes. Make an after-dinner walk part of your daily routine or walk to pick up light groceries. There are many simple ways to incorporate walking into your routine, and even a short walk a few times a week can make a noticeable difference.

• Strength training. Exercises such as leg extensions that target specific leg muscles can often be easily done at home. Leg extensions can be incorporated into your routine while watching TV or sitting at the kitchen table. While seated, straighten one leg and gently lift it off the ground to a height that is comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds, and then slowly lower that leg. Repeat this exercise with the other leg. As your strength grows, add ankle weights to increase resistance and give your legs even more of a workout.

• Join a community group. There’s no need to join an expensive gym! If you enjoy working out with others, community centres often offer affordable exercise programs for different age groups that will get you moving and socializing.

Balance

An important element in your ability to stay on your feet is balance. A couple of factors can negatively impact your sense of balance and cause dizziness or other assorted issues. Poor eyesight, some medications and improper nutrition can all lead to problems. Keep the following tips in mind when focusing on balance.

• Be diligent about eye health. Make sure you have an annual eye examination. It doesn’t take long and can have tremendous long-term health benefits.

• Review any medicinal side effects. Talk with your pharmacist or family physician about any possible effects from your medications, vitamins and herbal supplements.

• Maintain good nutrition. Eat regularly and make sure you drink enough non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages. Good stamina reduces the risk of sudden dizziness or passing out. Feeling dizzy or faint could also be caused by a medical condition – see a health professional for an evaluation if you regularly or increasingly experience these symptoms.

Strength and balance work together to keep you steady. Many activities that contribute to maintaining and improving balance also help build strength, such as swimming, cycling, Tai Chi, yoga, golf and dancing. Anything that gets you on your feet and moving helps.

You might also consider seeing a chiropractor. He or she is an expert in back, muscle and joint health, and can assess your strength and balance and prescribe specific exercises for you.