by Yvonne Bechheim
Fall Prevention deals – as is clear from the name – with the prevention of falls. Although older people are at higher risk to fall, it can happen to anyone at one time or another. Nobody wants to fall, it always happens suddenly, unexpectedly, and it can happen anywhere – tripping over the curb onto the road, while snagging some underbrush on a forest path, toys strewn on the floor, or misjudging the height of a doorstep, just to name a few.
Most falls are minor, and you might only suffer a slight bruise or a contusion. Sometimes, however, the result can be more serious, like a nasty shoulder injury or even broken bones. Quite often it will be the wrist that suffers most, as we automatically try to steady our fall.
Anyone, who has ever suffered a particularly bad fall knows the feeling of fear it entails. We suddenly become unsure of ourselves and fearful. In particular older people will tend to trust their own body less and less, and will tend not to leave their familiar surroundings.
That is exactly where the vicious circle begins. Staying mostly at home means you will move less and use your muscles less. Our body tends to operate on as little energy as possible. It will get rid of any excess it feels is no longer required. That means that if you don’t use your muscles regularly and actively, your muscle power will decrease and you will become weaker. The weaker your muscles, the more likely are you to fall. What can we do to prevent falls?
It is important to implement a targeted and healthy endurance training, and to train your balance. Both of these can be done far into old age, and regular movement will minimise the risk of falling.
Your sense of balance stabilises the body in every position, no matter if you are walking, sitting, or running. Correct balance is critical for any targeted body movement. The older we get, the harder it becomes to maintain balance. We become insecure and fall more frequently. Balance is, however, one of those things we can train long into old age – just like power and endurance. Those of us, who are lazy and don’t move much will have much more problems standing up and walking safely, than active people, who enjoy sports. There are many exercises that can be done while standing or walking that will test your limits of balance, which will definitely help prevent nasty falls.
Age-suitable, targeted power training will help strengthen your musculature and counteract atrophy. Power training has nothing to with muscle training or bodybuilding, and should instead be understood as training to strengthen muscles. The objective is to strengthen your existing muscles so that you can prevent falls.
Multi-dimensional training means that your body will have to do several things at once. In older people, the ability to achieve an interplay and interconnection between multiple simultaneous activities begins to fade. It becomes difficult to concentrate on more than one thing at a time, and we loose control of the overall picture. Targeted activities and the mastery of everyday tasks suddenly become a challenge. Our responsiveness and orientation abilities are diminished, which can lead to serious
problems in traffic.
Special training, in which several tasks have to be completed, can help improve coordination skills.
Lit: “Gesundheitsbewusstes Krafttraining” by Yvonne Bechheim (Grad. Sports Trainer) (available in German only)
This book offers a guideline for health-conscious actions and an integrated
training program. It contains examples for exercises for methodical and systematic power training using small equipment, like the Powerball and the Redondo ball, Brasil, or Aero-Step XL.
Yvonne describes the correct preventative behaviour for risk factors, like back pain and osteoporosis, as well as exercises to prevent falls. The training tips are illustrated in 159 coloured images and photographs. The book is aimed at sports teachers and trainers, and can be very useful for active people of any age to use at home.