Stride length. Why is it important as we age?
Taking smaller steps can lead to falls for these reasons:
- When taking smaller steps, we tend to look down rather than forward. This increases fall risk due to the fact that your center of gravity is already forward if you trip on something.
- When taking smaller steps, we tend not to pick up our feet as much, which creates issues with clearing obstacles, thereby increasing fall risk.
So what do we do about it?
- Put 2 chairs – or other objects – across the room from each other. Count your steps between the 2. Then try it again, this time trying to reduce the number of steps from your previous try.
- Stand in front of a step. Lift up each foot and tap the top of the step. Try 20 times total.
Suggestions to make this more effective:
- Get your heart rate up first in order to create new neural connections in the brain
- Practice daily – what we practice most is what we get good at!
- Add in some strength training. Core training has been shown to be correlated with balance.
- Power training can help you learn how to catch yourself if you trip on something.