FACTORS THAT AFFECT GAIT CHANGES AS WE AGE
HOW TO MITIGATE FALL RISK
Have you watched an older adult shuffle as they walk? Take small steps? Look down while walking?
As we age, if we don’t counteract the changes, we lose mobility, strength and the ability to rotate our bodies.
Many people start taking smaller steps and look down at the ground while walking, thinking they are mitigating their fall risk. However, the opposite is true!
When looking down while walking, your center of gravity shifts. In other words, when you are looking down, your body is already leaning forward and not over your base of support (your hips and feet). Therefore, if you trip on something, you’re already at a disadvantage and it will be much EASIER to fall.
Similarly, taking smaller steps may SEEM like it will reduce falls, but, it usually represents poor leg strength and inability to lift the feet up to clear obstacles.
Walking with a widened stance can mean a loss of the ability to rotate your body. This can mean shifting your weight from side to side rather than rotating your torso when walking – once again, creating more opportunities to fall.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is most of these changes can be attributed to poor habits created over time, combined with a loss of strength and power. Which means – fall risk CAN be tuned around with the right program!
The first step is an assessment which will provide a starting point. We build the blueprint from there.
**FALLING IS NOT A NORMAL PART OF AGING**
A few facts about exercise and falls:
1. Exercise is the most important component in a fall prevention intervention.
2. Other interventions are less effective when not combined with exercise.
3. The 75% RULE: exercises should be able to be performed with good form 75% of the time. The other 25% should be challenging for you.
4. Contrary to popular belief, fall prevention strategies should be practiced after a lifting session when you are somewhat fatigued. Why? A fall is more likely to occur when you’re tired or not at 100%. What you practice in the gym will create new neural pathways to help you outside the gym.
How do you want to age?