Monday, October 20, 2008

Prevent Fractures: Tips for Better Balance

Have you ever lost your balance? Of course you have, and it's usually no big deal. But if loosing your balance results in a fall, the result can be serious. According to a recent Swedish study, impaired balance is associated with triple the risk of hip fracture! 

As we age, bones may become more brittle and the risk for fractures increases. As a person gets more sedentary and moves less in their life, they lose flexibility and balance along with other types of fitness. This can happen regardless of a person's age, and is especially important for older people. 

Balance requires mobility in motion. Have you ever balanced a yardstick or pole vertically on the palm of your hand? You'll notice that to keep the pole vertical you must move your hand around. If you hold your hand still, the pole falls off your hand.

So how does this relate to keeping your balance as you're standing "still". Well, when you stand, if you keep your knees soft (slightly bent), your pelvis/hips are free to move. Your potential for mobility is increased. If you lock your knees (keep them straight), you lose mobility, and your balance worsens. This is a subtle difference, but a difference that is very important as we age. 

The ASBMR (American Society for Bone and Mineral Research) published the article, Lack of Balance Predicts Fractures. They cited a recent medical study in Sweden, and Karl Michaelsson, M.D., P.H.D., of the Uppsala University Hospital in Uppsala Sweden. In the study, impaired balance was associated with double the risk of any fracture!

Here are some tips to improve your balance as you stand:
  • Bend your knees a little EVERY time you stand AND Walk.
  • Keep your hips loose. Visualize the Hula dance and practice bending your knees and moving your hips in circles.
  • Feel the ground with your feet. Concentrate on "sinking" your weight through your feet into the ground.
For advanced practice, do all of the above while standing on one foot. Be sure to alternate feet.

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