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Stay on Your Feet: A Chat About Fall Prevention and Your Well-Being

Why is Falls Prevention Important?

Falls prevention is not only about maintaining your physical well-being but also giving you the confidence to enjoy life without the anxiety of potentially falling and injuring yourself. It allows you to be open to more activities and be prepared for unforeseen situations that could cause a fall, such as a slippery slope, uneven ground, and other tripping hazards.

As you age, the risk of falls increases due to factors such as declining muscle strength, reduced bone density, impaired balance, and vision changes. These falls can result in severe injuries, including fractures, head trauma, and dislocations, leading to a substantial impact on the quality of life. Moreover, the fear of falling may contribute to decreased physical activity and social isolation, further exacerbating the risk of falls.

Falling | StudioXPhys

What is required in falls prevention?

Vestibular System:

  • The inner ear houses the vestibular system, which is responsible for relaying information about changes in head position and movement to the brain. It does this by detecting changes in acceleration and position concerning gravity. 

Proprioceptive System:

  • Proprioception involves receptors within your muscles, tendons, and joints that detect and send sensory feedback to your brain about the position and movement of body parts, contributing significantly to spatial awareness and postural control.

Visual System:

  • Vision plays a vital role in falls prevention and balance by giving input on body position, changes in movement, and the environment around us. It is important that your brain understands where the body is but also how the environment might affect our balance so you can effectively plan movements accordingly.   

Muscular System:

  • Skeletal muscles are used for falls prevention by acting upon the stimuli sent by your proprioceptive and vestibular systems. They control body movements which help to maintain a stable centre of gravity, keeping you balanced. Most of the time you don’t even notice but your postural muscles are constantly at work to keep you balanced at all times. 

Central Nervous System (CNS):

  • The brain, particularly the cerebellum and brainstem, processes and integrates all the information gathered from the vestibular, proprioceptive, and visual systems and generates a stimulus for the muscular system to act upon. 

How can I prevent falls?

Research shows us the 3 best things you can do to help prevent falls are;

  1. Balance training 

Balance training is crucial to preventing falls by fine-tuning our vestibular, proprioceptive, and visual systems to detect changes in body position and generate a fast response to the skeletal muscles to modify body position to reduce any risk of falling. It is important to perform both static (not moving) and dynamic (moving) balance exercises to get the best results from training. 

  1. Strength training

Training to improve your muscular strength will also have tremendous effects on falls prevention by improving your muscular endurance and the ability to absorb and generate force. This leads to better postural control over longer durations, reducing the risk of falls. Furthermore, being stronger improves recovery from loss of balance without falling. 

  1. Mobility/Flexibility training

Improving flexibility and mobility can also be beneficial for falls prevention. A good range of motion in all your limbs allows you to move the body into the most positions. Without good mobility and flexibility, the range of body positions reduces, limiting the capacity for the body to react to balance perturbations, and increasing the risk of falling. 

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